One of the newest additions to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's repertory is, in another sense, the oldest. Asadata Dafora choreographed "Awassa Astrige/Ostrich" in 1932, soon after moving to New York from his native Sierra Leone.
(1989, revised 1998)
Choreography: Bill T. Jones
Music: Felix Mendelssohn
Bill T. Jones’ joyful tour-de-force, D-Man in the Waters is a true modern dance classic and a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning work. It is a celebration of life and the resiliency of the human spirit that embodies loss, hope and triumph. Set to Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1825), the work is one of the finest examples of the post-modern aesthetic and was featured in PBS’s landmark film Dancing in the Light: Six Dances by African-American Choreographers. D-Man in the Waters is dedicated to Demian Acquavella. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater first performed choreography by Bill T. Jones in 1983 when Alvin Ailey invited him to create Fever Swamp on the Company. Jones choreographed and performed worldwide with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, for which he has created more than 140 works. Bill T. Jones is the recipient of numerous recognitions, including the Kennedy Center Honors; Tony Award (FELA! and Spring Awakening); Obie Award; the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award. In 2011, Jones was named Executive Artistic Director of New York Lives Arts.
Robert Battle comments: “Early in Bill T. Jones’ career, Alvin Ailey took a strong interest in him and encouraged his work. I imagine he saw his singular voice. As Judith Jamison has said, Bill wasn’t afraid to speak his own language. I think of Bill as a very courageous artist and that courage informs his work. Inspired by one of his dancers who died of AIDS, Demian Acquavella, D-Man In The Waters (Part I) was created in 1989, the year that Alvin Ailey and so many others were dying from the disease. What’s interesting is that the work is really about joy and a celebration of life – an acknowledgment of death but filled with a sense of transcendence.”