Pas de Duke

Alvin Ailey's Pas de Duke
Please Credit Photo: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Alicia Graf Mack and Antonio Douthit-Boyd in Alvin Ailey's Pas de Duke. Photo by Siggul, Visual Arts Masters


Choreography: Alvin Ailey                                                                            

Music: Duke Ellington

Pas de Duke was Alvin Ailey’s modern dance translation of a classical pas de deux honoring two of the most renowned dancers in the world, Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov and celebrating the musical genius of the late Duke Ellington (1899-1974).   Last staged for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during the 2006-2007 season, it was originally presented as part of the festival “Ailey Celebrates Ellington” at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater in 1976, commemorating the nation’s bicentennial with America’s two great art forms - modern dance and jazz music.  Ailey choreographed five sections capturing the sassy sophistication of “The Duke’s” jazz music: the introduction to “Such Sweet Thunder” (1957); the pas de deux to “Sonnet for Ceasar” (1975); the male solo to “Sonnet for Hank Cinq” (1957); the female solo to “Unclothed Woman” (1948); and the finale to “Old Man’s Blues” (1930), which captured the exuberance of the star dancers’ qualities and techniques as the male and female soloists mirror each other toe-to-toe and line-for-line in this playful, good-natured competition.   

Robert Battle comments: “Created especially for Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov – reigning stars at the time from parallel worlds of dance – Pas de Duke springs from Alvin Ailey’s interest in many things when it came to dance and music, as well as his appreciation and ability to showcase great dancers.  He took the ballet pas de deux formula and had a play with it, still using some of the balletic motifs but adding in elements of jazz and other forms of contemporary dance.”

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F.A.M.E. NYC Magazine - Masters At Work, The Ailey-Ellington Connection

F.A.M.E NYC Magazine - Masters At Work, The Ailey-Ellington Connection

When producers Kenny "Dope" Gonzales and Louie Vega formed Masters at Work in 1990, they proceeded to creature a catalog that contains some of house music's most recognizable classics. Such is the case when two great creative minds come together to collaborate. It seemed that from the time Alvin Ailey hit the streets of The Big Apple in 1954, he and Duke Ellington's paths were destined to meet.