Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's Night Creature. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will continue to inspire audiences virtually with a spring series of free programs through “Ailey All Access” from March 17 – June 24. Using dance as a vehicle for joy and hope during a time of unprecedented challenges and separation, the presentations will advance the Ailey organization’s online initiatives that have inspired and enlightened over 12 million people in 121 countries over the past year, including a December holiday season featuring several dance film premieres.
Ailey All Access free programs will premiere on select nights at 7pm ET from March through June and be available online for two-week period. On Wednesday, March 17, during Women’s History Month, the streaming will feature the legendary Judith Jamison’s A Case of You, an emotional and sensual duet performed to Diana Krall’s version of Joni Mitchell’s song by the same title. The Tuesday, March 30 presentation of Blues Suite will mark the Company’s anniversary and the historic first performance in 1958 that defined Alvin Ailey’s choreographic genius in presenting real people on the concert dance stage. Vividly evoking the sorrow, humor and humanity of the blues, Blues Suite conjures Alvin Ailey’s “blood memories” of the barrelhouses and fields of rural, Depression-era southern Texas and the songs he called “hymns to the secular regions of the soul.”
During Jazz Appreciation Month, Ailey will unveil two broadcasts set to the music of jazz greats: Night Creature on Wednesday, April 14, a bubbly champagne cocktail of a dance that perfectly fuses Alvin Ailey’s buoyant choreography and Duke Ellington’s sparkling music, as well as Members Don’t Get Weary on Wednesday, April 28, Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts’ work set to music of John Coltrane.
In a joyful nod to the 50th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s iconic masterpiece, Cry, which debuted May 4, 1971 as a birthday present for his mother Mrs. Lula Cooper, a new film adaption will premiere on Mother’s Day on May 9. Dedicated to “all Black women everywhere – especially our mothers,” the 16-minute tour-de-force solo created on his stunning muse, Judith Jamison, was an instant sensation and went on to become an enduring work of American art. Alvin Ailey and Cry are spotlighted in a segment narrated by Kelly Rowland in “Black Renaissance,” a tribute to those who have shaped Black History presented by YouTube Originals, in partnership with Google Arts & Culture. Watch the segment here.
The Ailey Spring Gala on June 24 at 7:30pm ET celebrates Hope, Promise and Future in a virtual broadcast finale of the free Ailey All Access spring series. Presenting a special homage to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., the gala features appearances by gifted young dancers from The Ailey School and special guests. This joyous program, made possible through the generous support of Southern Company, will feature Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in three premieres expressing the evening’s themes choreographed by Company members Ghrai DeVore-Stokes, Chalvar Monteiro and Kanji Segawa, and includes remarks from guest of honor Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The Corporate Chair is Southern Company President & CEO, Thomas A. Fanning.
The gala raises the vital funds needed to sustain its programs for young people, especially during this challenging time when other sources of funding, such as from live theater performances, aren’t possible. The evening will also include a special VIP pre-performance virtual reception and a post-gala celebration.
Additional online special programs in May and June will be announced later. For further updates on the spring series and schedule, visit Ailey All Access and www.alvinailey.org.
Ailey’s artistry will also be presented virtually by New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Mother’s Day weekend, with a virtual free screening of “Revelations Reimagined,” reinventing and exploring the beloved cultural treasure in a new context. To RSVP for the screening visit here. Also, Ailey fans can tune into a program featuring the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Jamar Roberts as part of Cal Performances at Home on Thursday, June 10 at 7pm PT. Tickets for the Spring 2021 Cal Performances at Home series can be purchased online at calperformances.org/at-home.
In addition to performances, Ailey virtual workshops and classes have been inviting people of all ages around the world to join in the dance. Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs has expanded remote learning opportunities with a new available offering – a Revelations Virtual Dance Workshop Series for middle school students that blends dance with poetry, history, music and more, to build a foundation of artistic exploration that will enhance any students’ academic experience. Led by master teachers and former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater members Nasha Thomas and Michael Thomas, the series is adapted from the popular Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach curriculum, utilizing Alvin Ailey’s signature work as an inspirational framework for a comprehensive study of language arts, social studies and dance.
The Ailey Extension program which “brings dance back to the people” has leapt from the studio into homes with an expanded slate of online offerings, including special Absolute Beginner Ballet, Horton and Afro-Cuban classes and workshops to mark first day of spring on March 20 and a cheerful Masala Bhangra workshop led by Sarina Jain celebrating Holi, the Hindu Spring “festival of colors,” on March 27. Even dancers as young as five years old can learn basic skills and try out new techniques during the Kids & Teens Online Spring session which runs from March 1 – May 2. Ailey Extension also offers more than 30 weekly classes for adults in a variety of different styles including hip-hop, ballet, Horton, West African, samba, contemporary, BellydanceBURN, Broadway Jazz and more. Visit alvinailey.org/extension for schedule information.
As we move forward together, the Ailey organization will continue to find ways to build community, uplift with Ailey’s artistry, and celebrate the indomitable human spirit through dance. During these unprecedented times, the Ailey organization is grateful for contributions to the Still, We Dance campaign that is making it possible to move forward and share Ailey All Access. To enjoy a variety of digital content, follow Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Ailey Extension on Facebook and Instagram, The Ailey School on Instagram, and visit www.alvinailey.org regularly for updates.