Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Announces Programming for NY City Center Season
Artistic Director Robert Battle Leads the Company in Five-Week Holiday Engagement Featuring More than Two Dozen Dynamic Works and a Series of Special Programs, December 4, 2019 – January 5, 2020
World Premieres by Donald Byrd and Ailey’s First Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts
Company Premieres of Aszure Barton’s BUSK and Camille A. Brown’s City of Rain and New Productions of Judith Jamison’s Divining and Lar Lubovitch’s Fandango
Special Evenings Celebrate The Ailey School’s 50th Anniversary on Tuesday, December 10th and Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya on Sunday, December 22nd
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Center’s Principal Dance Company, returns to the theater’s stage from December 4, 2019 – January 5, 2020. Artistic Director Robert Battle leads Ailey’s 32 extraordinary dancers during this annual five-week engagement, which has become a joyous holiday tradition. The repertory features more than two dozen diverse works by some of the world’s preeminent choreographers, including world premieres by Donald Byrd and Ailey dancer and newly announced Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts, company premieres by Aszure Barton and Camille A. Brown, and new productions by Judith Jamison and Lar Lubovitch.
“I’m not only excited about this season’s topical works and the range of choreographers, but also to announce Jamar Roberts as Ailey’s first-ever Resident Choreographer” stated Artistic Director Robert Battle. “Continuing the Company’s legacy of excellence, works will be staged by three dance masters while we also showcase the artistry of some of today’s most sought-after choreographers following in their footsteps. We will also celebrate Masazumi Chaya, the untiring and unmatched keeper of the flame whose dedication to Alvin Ailey’s vision spans nearly five decades, as well as The Ailey School for fifty years of world-class training that has developed countless performing artists. And we’re happy to kick off the season honoring Elaine Wynn at the Opening Night Gala, as her support led to our building’s expansion, allowing the organization – especially The Ailey School – to grow and thrive.”
Celebrated choreographer Donald Byrd, known for his eclecticism and creating compelling characters, will present his fifth premiere for the Company on Friday, December 6th. Greenwood is an ensemble work with music by Israeli violist and composer Emmanuel Witzthum that draws on Ailey’s theatrical roots and legacy of shining a spotlight on social issues. A TONY nominee (The Color Purple), Bessie Award-winner (The Minstrel Show) and 2019 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, Byrd is using the 1921 Tulsa riots as a source of inspiration.
The following week, on Tuesday, December 10th, Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts will unveil Ode, the first in a series of three works as he steps into the new role of Resident Choreographer. Like his critically-acclaimed Members Don’t Get Weary (2017), this work for six dancers will feature a jazz score – Don Pullen’s “Suite (Sweet) Malcolm (Part 1 Memories and Gunshots).” Ode offers a meditation on the beauty and fragility of life in a time of growing gun violence and will include Roberts’ own costume designs. The work will be explored during a special Works & Process preview event at the Guggenheim on Monday, November 18. A member of the Company since 2002, Roberts has become renowned for his powerful performances on world stages, including at The White House and as a guest star with London’s Royal Ballet, receiving the prestigious New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award for Outstanding Performer.
The December 10th performance also celebrates The Ailey School’s 50th Anniversary. Founded in 1969, The program has served as a springboard for many notable artists, including season choreographers Camille A. Brown and Roberts, along with more than 70% of the dancers in the Company. In addition to Ode, the evening will also feature students from The Ailey School alongside the Ailey dancers in Alvin Ailey’s Memoria and Revelations.
Opening on Friday, December 13th, Award-winning choreographer Aszure Barton’s dazzling BUSK is an episodic look at the nature of performance and the vulnerabilities that artists face in revealing themselves onstage. A group work spotlighting the Ailey dancers, Barton adapts the choreography for each new production, drawing on the individual strengths and personalities of each performer. The founder and director of Aszure Barton & Artists, an inter-disciplinary international dance project, she has collaborated with celebrated dance artists and companies including Mikhail Baryshnikov, American Ballet Theatre, Teatro alla Scala, Nederlands Dans Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, National Ballet of Canada and Sydney Dance Company, among many others, and choreographed the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera.
Premiering on Tuesday, December 17th, Camille A. Brown’s quietly lyrical City of Rain honors the struggles and grace of a lost friend, showing a different facet of the choreographer than Ailey audiences have seen in her previous works for the Company (The Groove To Nobody’s Business and The Evolution of a Secured Feminine). Dedicated to Greg ‘Blyes’ Boomer, the work for 10 dancers is set to an original composition by Jonathan Melville Pratt entitled Two Way Dream. A recipient of numerous honors, including a 2014 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production for the work Mr. TOL E. RAncE (Camille A. Brown & Dancers), Ms. Brown choreographed Broadway’s Choir Boy (TONY nominee for Best Choreography), the TONY Award-winning revival of Once On This Island, and the Emmy Award-Winning television special, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”
New productions taking the stage this season include Judith Jamison’s Divining (1984) – her first major choreographic effort which incorporates North African, Central African, and Latin rhythms and complex movement – and Lar Lubovitch’s Fandango (1995) – a sensually athletic duet set to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” that explores the infinite possibilities of partnering.
The New York City Center engagement also marks the final season as Associate Artistic Director for Masazumi Chaya, who will be celebrated with a special program on Sunday, December 22nd. The tribute performance will feature over a dozen excerpts that highlight his extensive career of nearly five decades, a special piece d’occasion created by Matthew Rushing, and appearances and performances by former company members.
In addition, the engagement showcases a variety of 2018-19 season premieres: Darrell Grand Moultrie’s uplifting Ounce of Faith; hip-hop innovator Rennie Harris’ acclaimed Lazarus; Ronald K. Brown’s “love letter to Mr. Ailey,” The Call; and Jessica Lang’s luminous EN.
Special season programs include All Ailey performances comprised of four of Mr. Ailey’s most celebrated ballets, Night Creature, Cry, Memoria, and Revelations (December 12, 14 mat); Three Visionaries featuring ballets by each the Company’s artistic directors – Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, and Robert Battle (December 21 mat, 24, Jan 4 mat); Ailey Classics featuring excerpts of eight works by Mr. Ailey, from rarely-seen gems – including Hidden Rites, Mary Lou’s Mass, and Phases – to timeless favorites – like Night Creature and Cry (December 19, 22 mat, 28 mat, Jan 3); and All New programs of season premieres (December 14 eve, 20, 28 eve, Jan 1, Jan 4 eve).
The engagement also includes Family Matinee performances each Saturday at 2pm, followed by a Q&A session with Ailey’s revered dancers after the finale of Revelations, a must-see for all ages. Revelations will also bring an inspiring close to the performances on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and a special Season Finale on January 5, what would have been Mr. Ailey’s 89th birthday. Live music performances of Revelations will take place on December 4, 6, and 7 (matinee and evening). New dancers performing in their City Center debut with Ailey are Patrick Coker, James Gilmer, and Corrin Rachelle Mitchell. A detailed performance schedule is attached (subject to change).
Following the New York City Center engagement, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will dance from coast-to-coast on a 21-city National Tour from February – May 2020.
In 1958, Alvin Ailey and a small group of dancers took the stage in New York and forever changed American dance and culture. One of the country’s groundbreaking greats, his Company inspires all in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the modern dance tradition. More than 60 years after its founding, Ailey continues to move forward under the leadership of Robert Battle, revealing time and again why Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the world’s most beloved dance companies