Originally created by dance legend Alvin Ailey in 1958 and then helmed by the equally iconic Judith Jamison since Ailey's death in 1989, the Ailey company saw a major change this year when Jamison retired and handed the reins of the company over to the young choreographer Robert Battle.
We spoke to Battle at a recent promotional reception at the Stuart McLean Gallery held in anticipation of the Ailey company's performances at the Fox, February 16-19. Of course, our first question was whether or not audiences would be able to see any difference when the company returns to the stage here. We were surprised by his simple and direct answer: Yes.
And for the first time in its history the company will perform the classic contemporary work of Paul Taylor, one of the major figures of 20th century dance and a major influence on Battle. The staging of "Arden Court," set to a baroque score by William Boyce, was overseen by Taylor himself and will enter the Ailey repertory.
Performing works by such different choreographers in different styles has stretched and challenged the dancers in new ways, says Battle: it will be absolutely apparent in the performances, he says.
Also on the roster this year is Battle's own 2001 piece "The Hunt," a ritualistic dance for six men set to a thundering percussive score by Les Tamors du Bronx. Battle will also be bringing back one of his very first creations as a choreographer, 1999's "Takademe," a deconstruction of traditional Indian Kathak dance.
But there are some traditions that will absolutely remain untouched, Battle says: all shows, no matter the program, will end with a performance of "Revelations." "No matter if you're across the street or across the ocean, you connect to the humanity of that work," Battle says of Ailey's most celebrated dance set to traditional gospel songs. "It leaves everyone up-lifted in one way or another. I think that's why it's endured. It is a great American masterpiece."
And Battle says that there's one other thing that will never change, no matter who takes the helm. "Ailey said that 'Dance comes from the people and should be delivered back to them,'" he says. "And that's one thing the company will always seek to do."
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs at the Fox, Feb 16-19. Tickets begin at $25 and student tickets are available for just $10. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Alvin Ailey.
@ Mark from Atlanta "Where were these people when Bush was deceiving the country to…
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, yesterday took part in an hearing held by the U.S…
"Each charge of possessing a firearm while a felon carries a maximum sentence of 10…
kasim reed, rising national democratic star, is so fetch.
Kasim Reed@KasimReed21h Please remember to vote today. I just did. The polls don't close until…