The River

Alvin Ailey's The River
Please Credit Photo: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Jamar Roberts and Alicia Graf Mack in Alvin Ailey's The River.  Photo by Paul Kolnik


Choreography: Alvin Ailey                                                                                  

Original Score: Duke Ellington

The River is Alvin Ailey’s acclaimed collaboration with the late musical genius Duke Ellington, choreographed and composed in 1970 for American Ballet Theatre and first performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1980.   One of 14 dances Ailey created to Ellington’s music, The River was Ellington’s first symphonic score written specifically for dance.  Combining classical ballet, modern dance and jazz, the suite suggests tumbling rapids and slow currents on its voyage to the great sea, mirroring the journey of life.  The River has been restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya for several companies in addition to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  With Ailey’s mixture of light and fun yet dark and romantic choreography balanced with Ellington’s score, the work is an abstract celebration of birth, life, and rebirth. 

Robert Battle comments: “Originally created for American Ballet Theatre, The River is from Alvin Ailey’s unforgettable collaboration with the great American composter Duke Ellington.  It shows his range as a choreographer, and certainly the versatility of the dancers.  Mr. Ailey always seemed to have a passport through all the different genres of dance while still retaining his essence.”

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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.