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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
AAADT Press Room

Presidential Medal of Freedom Acknowledges Powerful Legacy of Alvin Ailey that Continues to Thrive Under Leadership of Artistic Director Robert Battle

Inspiring Performances by Ailey’s Extraordinary Dancers Include
Alvin Ailey’s American Masterpiece Revelations and a Wide Variety of Premieres
Highlighted by a Timely Tribute to a Civil Rights Icon - ODETTA

Company Premieres of After the Rain Pas de Deux by Christopher Wheeldon, Uprising by Hofesh Shechter, and Suspended Women by Jacqulyn Buglisi

Announcement of 2015 15-Performance Engagement at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater June 10 - 21

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, will travel to 18 cities coast-to-coast presenting 80 performances, beginning tonight at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.  Hitting other major venues like The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA, the tour culminates May 10th at the beautiful Prudential Hall of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, where Ailey is the Principal Resident Affiliate.

Artistic Director Robert Battle also announced that, following the tour, the Company will return to Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater from June 10th to 21st for 15 performances, continuing a new tradition for the company by hosting a second annual New York City season. The 2015 Lincoln Center engagement opens with a performance featuring the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater joined by rising stars of Ailey II, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School, and inspiring students from AileyCamp in an “Ailey Spirit” spring gala benefit for scholarships and Arts In Education programs. The full program will be announced at a later date and tickets, starting at $25, go on sale Monday, April 13th.   

A few days prior to the launch of Ailey’s exciting 2014-15 season at New York City Center in December, Artistic Director Robert Battle visited the White House and accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor - on behalf of Alvin Ailey. Bestowed 25 years after the passing of the Company’s legendary founder, President Obama proclaimed that “through him, African-American history was told in a way that it had never been told before -- with passionate, virtuoso dance performances that transfixed audiences worldwide.”   Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s national tour begins at the start of Black History Month and carries on the legacy of uplifting, uniting and celebrating the human spirit as Ailey’s extraordinary dancers bring life to a wide variety of premieres, new productions and classic works.

The Associated Press proclaimed that “…the timing could hardly be more apt for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s new civil rights-themed piece” ODETTA a world premiere choreographed by renowned Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing.  The tribute is set to the musical repertoire of celebrated singer and civil rights activist Odetta Holmes, who was known as “the voice of the Civil Rights Movement” and anointed as “the queen of American folk music” by Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The Pleasure of the Lesson, the Company’s first collaboration with Robert Moses, will also be presented on tour for the first time.  Known for his sophisticated and sexy choreography, the new work was created with a cast of ten dancers for the Company’s 2014 Koch Theater engagement. 

This season’s company premieres from Christopher Wheeldon, Jacqulyn Buglisi and Hofesh Shechter are introducing Ailey audiences to ballets by three respected choreographers whose works are being performed by the Ailey Company for the first time.

Christopher Wheeldon’s dreamlike After the Rain Pas de Deux – praised for its sublime simplicity and intricate partnering – was an instant hit on New York City Ballet in 2005.  Set to music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the sensual male-female pas de deux will be revealed in a fresh light as the Ailey dancers make it their own.

Jacqulyn Buglisi’s Suspended Women is a mesmerizing ensemble piece created in 2000, illuminating the challenges and strength of women across the ages.  Set to music by Maurice Ravel, with interpolations composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, it is recognized as one of the signature works by this celebrated former Martha Graham dancer, choreographer and master teacher.

Created in 2006, Hofesh Shechter’s acclaimed Uprising features seven men who bombard the stage with intensity in an exhilarating work set to a percussive score by the choreographer himself.  Utilizing a movement style that is primal and imbued with high-tension energy, the 38-year-old Israeli-born Shechter has risen to become one of Europe’s most sought-after dance creators since his move to London in 2002. 

In a new production of Ulysses Dove’s Bad Blood, emotional passion and kinetic energy encapsulate the powerful yet extremely tender war between the sexes.  The work features music by Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel and was originally staged on Ailey in 1986, as the fourth of seven ballets mounted on the Company by Dove.  Dove is hailed as one of the most exciting choreographers to emerge in the latter half of the twentieth century.

In Polish Pieces, Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen displays his mastery for building dazzling creations from simple motifs and geometric patterns.  Driven by the rhythms of Henryk Górecki’s score, the 12 dancers in this colorful ensemble work create a brilliant kaleidoscope through endlessly shifting formations that culminate in two sensual pas de deux.

Sierra Leone-born choreographer Asadata Dafora, blended his vision of a traditional African dance with Western staging in his groundbreaking 1932 solo, Awassa Astrige/Ostrich, set to Carl Riley’s score of African drumming and flute.  With arms flapping like wings, torso rippling and head held high, a warrior is transformed into the proud, powerful ostrich — the king of birds.  Dafora is recognized as one of the first to present African dance on the concert stage, influencing many future artists like Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham.

The dancer in Parsons’ signature work Caught defies gravity as he flies through the air in a bravura display of athletic stamina and a breathtaking fusion of art and technology using split-second timing.  Flashing lights capture the dancer in more than 100 leaps, suspending him in flight as he magically moves across the stage. 

In addition to performances of Ailey classics including Alvin Ailey’s signature American masterpiece Revelations, other encore performances of recent Battle commissions will include Bill T. Jones’ modern dance classic D-Man in the Waters; LIFT, by Aszure Barton; Chroma, by Wayne McGregor; two works by celebrated choreographer Ronald K. Brown; the spiritually-charged work Grace and last year’s world premiere work Four Corners, Ohad Naharin’s unique and innovative Minus 16, Ulysses Dove’s explosive Episodes, and Battle’s own work, Takademe.

Audience members are invited to “join in the dance” during their next trip to New York City by taking a complimentary class at The Ailey Extension using a ticket stub from any Ailey performance.  The Ailey Extension’s popular program of 80 weekly “real classes for real people” has been experienced by over 85,000 at Ailey’s building The Joan Weill Center for Dance, New York’s largest building dedicated to dance.  Each free class offer is good for one year from the performance date for first time students, and when purchasing a 10-class card for returning students.

The Ailey Organization continues its mission of using dance to educate young people through special student performances and master classes on the tour. Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach curriculum program will be implemented in public schools in Miami, FL; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; and Houston, TX. Utilizing Alvin Ailey's signature work, Revelations, the program is an inspirational framework for a comprehensive study of language arts, social studies, and dance.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater inspires all in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.  For further details on the Ailey organization’s performances, training programs and educational activities, visit  

Click here for more information and a full tour schedule.