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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates 65 years during City Center season

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Caroline T. Dartey and Constance Stamatiou in Alvin Ailey's The Mooche. Photo by Dario Calmese.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Caroline T. Dartey and Constance Stamatiou in Alvin Ailey's The Mooche. Photo by Dario Calmese.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has announced a much-anticipated 65th anniversary season at its New York City Center “home” from November 29-December 31. The engagement features world premieres by Artistic Director Robert Battle, former Ailey company member Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish and the versatile Amy Hall Garner —  the first awardee of a new Ailey Artist in Residence program. New productions of Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream, Jamar Roberts’ Ode and Hans van Manen’s Solo will be stagedA dozen works by Alvin Ailey will be represented, including highlights programs of Ailey Classics and Ailey & Jazz with live music. Ailey’s must-see masterpiece Revelations will be performed throughout the season, with soul-stirring live music on the opening night and first weekend.

Artistic Director Robert Battle said, “We are thrilled to once again greet our audiences for a full-length, five-week holiday season at City Center, with programs that express the spirit of hope, renewal and community that are so much a part of Mr. Ailey’s legacy. This is a moment to move forward, to expand, to look with fresh eyes at wonderful dances by Mr. Ailey and esteemed choreographers in our circle, and to welcome works by outstanding choreographers who are being represented by us for the first time. Above all, this is a moment to pay tribute to the amazing women who have made Ailey what it is today, on our stage, in the studios and classrooms, and throughout the entire organization. We dedicate this season to the women of Ailey.”

Performances begin with a one-night-only Opening Night Gala honoring Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison in her 80th year, featuring an original work created for the occasion. Details will be announced at a later date.

Leading the season is the world premiere of a new ballet by Battle with an original score by acclaimed composer and longtime collaborator John Mackey. Drawing from folk dance and the roots of modern dance and evoking the feeling of a ritual, this new work explores the ways in which community connections are renewed after prolonged social separation, ultimately inviting the audience into a close experience with the performers.

As part of its 65th anniversary season, the company also announces a new Ailey Artist in Residence program, expanding its investment in and partnership with choreographers who reflect Alvin Ailey’s cultural inquiry, participatory values and worldview rich with vast curiosity. Created to dovetail with Battle’s New Directions Choreography Lab, the first cycle of the Ailey Artist in Residence program will welcome choreographers Amy Hall Garner, Maria Bauman and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, each of whom will be in residence for one year over the next three seasons. Ailey Artists in Residence will have the opportunity to impact all aspects of the organization, making their presence felt throughout the year.

Amy Hall Garner will kick off her residency with her first work for the Company to debut at City Center. CENTURY is a deeply personal piece inspired by her grandfather on the eve of his 100th birthday. Taking a cue from his spirited essence and set to the music of Ray Charles, Count Basie, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and more, CENTURY is a celebration of life, resilience and joy.

“Like so many people, I have always felt there was magic in the name ‘Alvin Ailey’ — two words that signify a special depth of emotion, freedom of expression and uncompromising honesty, all conveyed with such virtuosity that your breath stops,” Garner said. “It is a profound honor to be named an Ailey Artist in Residence and to share this designation with other extraordinary dance makers. At the start of my participation in this wonderful residence program, and after previously choreographing for Ailey II and The Ailey School, I am endlessly grateful for now being able to celebrate my first premiere for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.”

Former Ailey dancer Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish will premiere a new duet titled Me, Myself and You. A dreamlike dance about reminiscence, it is set to Damien Sneed and Brandie Sutton’s rendition of “In A Sentimental Mood,” conjuring the memories of love and passion for a woman who is asking herself if she should let go or forge ahead. 

New productions this season include Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, set to music by Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis and War, which joins in the season’s tribute to the women of Ailey by evoking the elegance, dignity and generosity of Judith Jamison and borrowing the title of her autobiography. Other new productions are Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream, an audacious, non-stop piece with movement abstract but steeped in meeting that mirrors life’s boisterous waves; Jamar Roberts’ Ode, a meditation on the beauty and fragility of life in a time of gun violence set to Don Pullen’s Suite (Sweet) Malcolm (Part 1 Memories and Gunshots) with an all-female cast; and the seven-minute tour-de-force Solo by Hans van Manen, the internationally celebrated choreographer long associated with the Dutch National Ballet. 

A “Pioneering Women of Ailey” program on December 19 will feature special performance excerpts celebrating Carmen de Lavallade, Judith Jamison, Denise Jefferson and Sylvia Waters. This season’s beloved Ailey Classics program highlights a selection of repertory spanning the breadth of Ailey’s rich catalog, including excerpts of Memoria, Night Creature (sections 2&3), Pas de Duke (1st song), Masekela Langage (Morolo), Opus McShann (Gee Baby), Opus McShann (Doo Wah), Love Songs (A Song for You), For ‘Bird’ – With Love (A Night in Tunisia), Hidden Rites (Of Love), For ‘Bird’ – With Love(Bird Lives). A celebrated Ailey & Jazz program will include live music performed by the Future of Jazz Orchestra to accompany dynamic performances of Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature and excerpts of Pas de Duke (1st song), Masekela LangageOpus McShann (Doo Wah)A Song for You, For ‘Bird’ – With Love (A Night in Tunisia), For ‘Bird’ – With Love (Bird Lives), and Reflections in D.

Joining Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater this season are four new members, including an alumnus of AileyCamp who is the third former camper to join the Company. Isaiah Day, a fourth-year student at The Juilliard School, will graduate in 2024 and has been trained under the direction of former Ailey company member Alicia Graf Mack. Coral Dolphin is a founding member of Ballet Hispánico Dos who previously worked with Ronald K. Brown. De’Anthony Vaughan joins the Company after having trained at AileyCamp and The Ailey School. And Isabel Wallace-Green is a summa cum laude graduate of The Ailey/Fordham BFA Program.

This season marks the 12th year of the New Directions Choreography Lab (NDCL), a creative residency program hosted by Robert Battle and The Ailey School to cultivate an environment in which choreographers are free to take creative risks and explore new ideas. In 2023-2024, NDCL welcomes four new awardee/advisor pairs: Babacar Top and Dean Moss, Marla Phelan and Stefanie Batten Bland, Ingrid and Tony and Darshan Singh Bhuller, and Burr Johnson and Melanie George.

Tickets to Ailey’s New York City Center season start at $32 and are on sale now at the New York City Center box office, through Customer Care at 212-581-1212, or at www.alvinailey.org or www.nycitycenter.org. Discount tickets are available for Ailey Super Fans who purchase tickets for more than one performance, students with an appropriate ID, and groups of 10 or more (discounts do not apply to $32 tickets). For group sales, call 212-405-9082 or email groupsales@alvinailey.org. Ailey Young New York invites those between the ages of 21-35 to purchase 50% off tickets ($80 and over) for all performances December 1-31, with promo code MODERN (up to four tickets).

For further information about Ailey’s New York City Center season, visit www.alvinailey.org.

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