"Believing firmly that through dance one can change minds or uplift - not just entertain, but also educate - seems to me to be the backbone of the company," says Robert Battle, the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In the wake of a traumatizing year in American life, Battle feels that the time is right for the Company to once again step into the fray of current events.
Odetta Holmes – one of the most influential singers of the 20th century – is rediscovered as renowned Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing marries soul‐stirring movement to songs by the artist anointed “the queen of American folk music” by Martin Luther King, Jr. Rushing’s world premiere for Ailey, created with the support of commissioning funds from New York City Center, will pay tribute to Holmes's life as a singer, songwriter, actress, activist and "the voice of the Civil Rights Movement” in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. With a musical repertoire encompassing American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals, Odetta influenced many key figures of the 1960s folk‐ revival scene including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. Her song "Take This Hammer" was included on TIME magazine's list of the All‐Time 100 Songs. ODETTA will be Matthew Rushing's third ballet created for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater following Acceptance In Surrender (2005), a collaboration with Hope Boykin and Abdur Rahim‐ Jackson, and Uptown (2010), a celebration of the Harlem Renaissance.