Robert Battle

Artistic Director

Robert Battle became artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in July 2011 after being personally selected by Judith Jamison, making him only the third person to head the Company since it was founded in 1958. Mr. Battle has a long-standing association with the Ailey organization. A frequent choreographer and artist-in-residence at Ailey since 1999, he has set many of his works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II, and at The Ailey School. The Company’s repertory includes his ballets Ella, Juba, The Hunt, In/Side, No Longer Silent, and Mass.

In addition to expanding the Ailey repertory with works by artists as diverse as Kyle Abraham, Aszure Barton, Ronald K. Brown, Christopher Wheeldon, Rennie Harris, Hofesh Schechter, Jiří Kylián, Wayne McGregor, Robert Moses, Ohad Naharin, and Paul Taylor, Mr. Battle has also instituted the New Directions Choreography Lab to help develop the next generation of choreographers. Mr. Battle’s journey to the top of the modern dance world began in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, Florida. He showed artistic talent early and studied dance at a high school arts magnet program before moving on to Miami’s New World School of the Arts, under the direction of Daniel Lewis and Gerri Houlihan, and finally to the dance program at The Juilliard School, under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, where he met his mentor, Carolyn Adams. He danced with the Parsons Dance Company from 1994 to 2001, and also set his choreography on that company starting in 1998. Mr. Battle then founded his own Battleworks Dance Company, which made its debut in 2002 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as the U.S. representative to the World Dance Alliance’s Global Assembly. Battleworks subsequently performed extensively at venues including The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, American Dance Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

Mr. Battle was honored as one of the “Masters of African-American Choreography” by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005, and he received the prestigious Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in 2007. In 2014, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts and visited the White House to accept from President Obama, on behalf of Alvin Ailey, the National Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor. Mr. Battle was named a 2015 Visiting Fellow for The Art of Change, an initiative by the Ford Foundation. In October 2015, Simon & Schuster published MY STORY, MY DANCERobert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey, an inspiring children’s book based on Mr. Battle’s life. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and has addressed a number of high-profile organizations, including the United Nations Leaders Programme and the UNICEF Senior Leadership Development Programme.

Featured News Releases

Step Up Your Dance Moves This Summer At Ailey Extension With Performance Workshop Series & Master Classes

(New York) July 20, 2018 – Ailey Extension invites dancers to find their summer groove with exciting workshops and master classes. In addition to its annual Summer Performance Workshop series, Ailey Extension will offer an Alonzo King LINES Ballet Master Class with Meredith Webster and a “Werk That Twerk” workshop with famed hip-hop instructor TweetBoogie. These opportunities allow students to refine their technique, boost stage presence, and perform movement highlighting their personal style while learning from some of New York City’s top instructors at The Ailey Studios.

Ailey Extension Brings Dance To Future Generations With Summer Workshops & Weekly Classes

(New York) July 11, 2018 – This summer, Ailey Extension is offering a variety of unique dance programs for young, aspiring dancers. With one or two-week performance intensives and weekly training classes taught by New York City’s premiere choreographers and instructors, kids and teens can enjoy developing technique, enhancing musicality, and releasing creative expression. All classes take place at The Joan Weill Center for Dance – home of the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, and The Ailey School.

AileyCamp Celebrates 30 Year Milestone of Enriching And Inspiring Inner-City Youth Nationwide

New York, NY – July 9, 2018 – As Ailey enters its sixth decade, AileyCamp, the organization’s innovative full-scholarship day camp, marks its 30th anniversary reaching over 1,000 inner-city students in 10 cities nationwide with a life- changing experience. Founded by Alvin Ailey and Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey in 1989, AileyCamp is being implemented in collaboration with local organizations in Kansas City, MO; Kansas City, KS; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Berkeley, CA; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Seattle, WA; Bronx, NY and Newark, NJ. The valuable summer program gives underserved students ages 11 to 14 a supportive environment to use dance as a vehicle for developing self-esteem, self- discipline, creative expression and critical-thinking skills.

Featured Press Coverage

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Town & Country - Amazing Grace - Still, We Dance: An Ode To The Deliverance And Joy Of Self-Expression

Every year, in theaters and concert halls around the globe, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater takes audiences to church. Not just any house of worship, but the working-class, Black, Southern temples of rural Texas. The gospel they see and feel is Revelations, the company's signature dance, which has been staged more often than the troupe's other celebrated works, for some 25 million fans. This year Revelations turns 60, and it has lost none of its incantatory power. Against the back-drop of both a global pandemic that disproportionately ravages communities of color and the urgency of social justice movements including Black Lives Matter, Ailey's valentine to the spirituals of his youth is its own call to action, an ode to the deliverance of self-expression in the face of adversity.

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The New York Times - Robert Battle Likes To Cook, And Connect

Since the pandemic lockdown in March, Battle has been consumed with keeping the company in shape until its dancers can safely return to the stage. From Aug. 6-12, a collaboration among Battle, his predecessor, Judith Jamison, and the choreographer Rennie Harris will stream on Ailey All Access. Battle has recently been considering the organization’s role in the Black Lives Matter movement. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of, before it was a hashtag or a movement, that the Ailey company was demonstrating that Black lives matter in all of the work that we do,” he said. “But it’s almost not enough to live it. You have to say it expressly, that this is what we do and we are in solidarity. It’s not that we need to reinvent the wheel, but we need to roll it.”