Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Announces Performance Schedule For New York City Center Season December 2, 2015 - January 3, 2016

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

 Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized as a vital “American Cultural Ambassador” to the world and New York City Center’s Principal Dance Company, returns to the New York City Center stage for the 45th consecutive year from December 2, 2015 – January 3, 2016.  Led by Robert Battle in his fifth season, Ailey’s renowned artists will bring to life an expansive repertory of two dozen works by some of America’s most celebrated dance-makers during this exciting annual season, which has become a joyous holiday tradition.  The performances will feature three new productions of Ailey Classics, a Company premiere by Paul Taylor, and world premieres by Kyle Abraham, Ronald K. Brown and Robert Battle – his first since becoming Artistic Director.

In Awakening, Robert Battle uses his taut, ritualistic style to powerful effect in a tale of hope that expertly balances chaos and resolution, dissonance and harmony. Buoyed by the composer John Mackey’s complex orchestral music, the eagerly-anticipated work features a cast of over a dozen of Ailey’s dancers on a cathartic journey. 

Applauded for his past collaborations with the Ailey dancers, Ronald K. Brown is creating Open Door, driven by the music of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.  In his sixth Ailey world premiere, created with the support of commissioning funds from New York City Center, Brown will explore the ways in which music can act as a guide in opening pathways to culture, movement, and dance. The landmark Grace in 1999 was Brown’s first work for Ailey, and his last was Four Corners in 2014, both of which will be performed during the season.

Untitled America: First Movement is MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham’s second piece for the Company.  It is the first installment of a three-part piece that addresses the lineage of families affected by the injustices of the incarceration system.  The first movement is set to Laura Mvula’s elegant anthem Father, Father, and the remainder of the timely work will unfold over the next two Ailey seasons.  

This season will include the Company premiere of Piazzola Caldera, modern dance master Paul Taylor’s sizzling ballet capturing the essence of tango culture.  New productions of three classics by Alvin Ailey, renowned for showcasing the versatility, passion and artistry of the Ailey dancers, will also be presented.  Blues Suite, created for the Company’s first performance in 1958, conjures Alvin Ailey’s “blood memories” of the barrelhouses and fields of rural, Depression-era southern Texas to the blues music that will be performed with a live, on-stage band.  Cry is the physically and emotionally demanding solo created on Judith Jamison in 1971 as a birthday present for Alvin Ailey’s mother and dedicated to “all black women everywhere – especially our mothers.”  Love Songs, choreographed in 1972 to music by Donny Hathaway and Nina Simone for the recently deceased Ailey legend Dudley Williams, is a three-part technical and dramatic tour-de-force displaying both the power and gentleness of the male soloist.  

“It is an honor to be able to share exhilarating new pieces by choreographers Kyle Abraham and Ronald K. Brown, as well as enduring classics by Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey during our holiday season at New York City Center,” stated Artistic Director Robert Battle. “I am excited to be creating a new work on Ailey’s incomparable dancers this season, and to watch them bring to life a bounty of two dozen ballets, as only they can.  And, as the season draws to a close, the Ailey family looks forward to ringing in the New Year with a joyful celebration of Judith Jamison’s 50 years with Ailey.” 

The December 2nd Opening Night Gala Benefit performance at New York City Center and party at the New York Hilton Midtown Grand Ballroom will launch the season and supports Ailey’s extensive educational and training programs for young people. The gala will honor BNY Mellon and Agnes & Gerald Hassell will accept on the institution’s behalf. Highlights will include the world premiere of Ronald K. Brown’s highly-anticipated Open Door, David Parsons’ signature solo Caught, and the uplifting finale of Alvin Ailey’s American masterpiece Revelations with live musicians and singers.  

New York City Center’s five-week holiday season will also showcase 2015-16 season premieres and new productions, including: Exodus, the recent world premiere by bold hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris; Robert Battles powerful and acclaimed No Longer Silent, which brings to life the music of Erwin Schulhoff who was silenced by the Nazis; Talley Beatty’s Toccata staged 20 years after his passing; and Judith Jamison’s sensual A Case of You duet from Reminiscin’, performed to Diana Krall’s version of the Joni Mitchell song by the same title.  Notable ballets from Ailey’s past seasons will also be presented, including Aszure Barton’s propulsive work LIFT, Christopher Wheeldon’s dreamlike After the Rain Pas de Deux, Ronald K. Brown’s spiritually-charged works Grace and Four Corners,  and Hofesh Shechter’s primal Uprising

Family Matinee Series performances are presented each Saturday at 2pm during the season and are followed by a question-and-answer session with Ailey’s revered dancers. A special evening performance will take place on Christmas Eve, featuring three inspirational works: Robert Battle’s world premiere Awakening, Ronald K. Brown’s Grace, and Ailey’s must-see masterpiece Revelations.  A New Year’s Eve 50th Anniversary Tribute to Judith Jamison will feature her A Case of You duet, along with Alvin Ailey’s Blues Suite performed with live music, the timeless Revelations, and the legendary Cry solo, which she so unforgettably originated. 

Alvin Ailey’s signature Revelations will be performed to live music on December 2, 4, and 5 (matinee and evening).  Special season programs include All Ailey performances comprised entirely of works by Alvin Ailey (December 8, 13 matinee, 16, 19 matinee, 20 evening); Ailey Visionaries programs featuring choreography by all three of the Company’s Artistic Directors – Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, and Robert Battle (December 15, 20 matinee, and 29); All New programs comprised entirely of premieres (December 17, 19 evening, 22, 26 evening, January 2 evening); and The engagement closes on January 3 with a Special Season Finale performance.  A detailed performance schedule is attached (subject to change). 

In addition to the upcoming season, Mr. Battle has also curated the fifth year of the New Directions Choreography Lab, launched in 2011 to serve the entire field of dance.  The program assists choreographers in developing their craft by granting resident fellowships to four emerging and mid-career artists. The selected choreographers receive a monetary stipend, creative mentorships, the opportunity to utilize dancers from The Ailey School, and rehearsal time at Ailey’s home – the Joan Weill Center for Dance. Unlike other programs that require the production and presentation of a final performance or commission, Ailey’s lab enables choreographers to focus solely on the process of choreography as a creative experience, free from restricting expectations or deadlines. This year, fellowships have been awarded to Ephrat Asherie, Brice Mousset, Netta Yerushalmy, and Juel D. Lane, with creative mentorship from Gus Solomons, Jr., Darshan Bhuller, Julie Adams Strandberg, and Christine Dakin.

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. Nearly 60 years after its founding, Ailey continues to move forward under the leadership of Robert Battle, revealing once again why Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the world’s most beloved dance companies.   

The 2015-2016 Season Highlights: 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will take the stage at New York City Center from December 2, 2015 – January 3, 2016 in a five-week season that has become a joyous holiday tradition. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s acclaimed dancers will perform a diverse repertory including Battle’s first world premiere for the Company, Awakening, along with the highly anticipated world premieres of Ronald K. Brown’s Open Door and Kyle Abraham’s Untitled America: First Movement.  The season also includes the Company premiere of Paul Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera, and new productions of three Ailey classics: Blues Suite, Cry, and Love Songs. Other highlights include encores of season premieres and repertory favorites, like Rennie Harris critically-acclaimed Exodus, Robert Battle’s arresting No Longer Silent, and Alvin Ailey’s must-see masterpiece Revelations. The season also features the Opening Night Gala, the Saturday Family Matinee Series, special performances of Revelations with live music, a New Year’s Eve 50th Anniversary Tribute to Judith Jamison, and specific All Ailey, All New, and Ailey Visionaries programs.  Additionally, Simon & Schuster children’s book MY STORY, MY DANCE: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey goes on sale October 27th, just in time for holiday gift-giving.  


World Premieres

Choreography by Robert Battle
Music: John Mackey

Using his signature taut, ritualistic choreographic style and a score by composer John Mackey, Battle’s first world premiere since becoming artistic director follows a community on a cathartic journey from lamentation to peace.  Buoyed by the complex rhythmic quality of Mackey’s music (“Turning” and “The Attentions of Souls”, the third movement from the symphony “Wine-Dark Sea”) and a cast of over a dozen of Ailey’s extraordinary dancers, Battle’s eagerly-anticipated work is a powerful dance of dissonance and harmony, chaos and resolution.


Open Door
Choreography by Ronald K. Brown
Music: Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

Ronald K. Brown is renowned for his signature blend of modern dance and West African idioms in works that often lead into deeper examinations of issues of spirituality, community responsibility, and liberation.    Open Door is a new work set to the music of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, adding a new flavor to his signature style.  The title hints at the power of dance and music in opening pathways to culture and compassion.

Untitled America: First Movement
Choreography by Kyle Abraham
Music: Laura Mvula

In the first installment of a three-part suite to be completed in 2016, MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham, renowned for his avant-garde aesthetic and powerhouse athleticism, explores the lasting impact of incarceration in the prison system on individuals and families across generations. The first movement will be set to a contemporary sound score comprised of Laura Mvula's “Father, Father,” as performed by recording artist, Crystal Monee Hall. Fusing many facets of dance vocabulary, Abraham’s movement style is decidedly original and contains wealth of physical detail that resonates with the Ailey dancers’ trademark versatility. 

Company Premiere

Piazzolla Caldera (1997)
Choreography by Paul Taylor
Music: Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky

Set to music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky, Piazzolla Caldera is a finely wrought work sizzling with erotic energy by modern dance master Paul Taylor that captures the essence of tango culture. Men and women engage in a series of fiery encounters, in turns playful and predatory, in vivid duets and trios through the work’s four sections in this passionate homage to tango’s Argentinian working class roots.

Click here for more information the 2015-2016 season premieres and new productions, and company repertory.

MY STORY, MY DANCE: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey (released Oct. 27)

Just in time for the holidays, the children’s book My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey will be released by Paula Wiseman Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. Based on Battle’s life, it is the unique story of a young boy who, despite physical and other challenges, has a life filled with music, church, and movement – first martial arts, and then, after seeing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, dance. Husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome created the vibrant illustrations and wrote the inspiring narrative. The book, for ages 5 – 10, is a heart-warming story and perfect holiday gift.