If you are lucky enough to go, the sensations of Dakar – the smell of grilled fish and spiced coffee, the feeling of an impending downpour, the bone-rattling vibrations from a dozen drums – stay with you long after you leave. And while it is impossible to fully experience this West African city without making the trip, there are ways to capture at least a sliver of its magic. Unsurprisingly, considering the integral role of music in Dakar’s daily rhythms, it is hard to spend any time in Dakar without coming across some of the many dance styles of the region. Check out the Alvin Ailey Extension school, which offers regular online West African dance classes, led by the Senegalese dancer Maquette Camara.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater launched its first-ever virtual season, bringing people from all across the world together through dance. Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing and choreographer Yusha-Marie Sorzano discuss the virtual season and the process of developing a new work during a pandemic.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the performing arts in New York City, with concert venues and Broadway theaters shut down. But those who run the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater were determined not to cancel the Company's traditional holiday shows. The result is Ailey Forward, a series of nine performances online that are available for free. Ailey Forward is a fitting title for these presentations, which extend from now through to the end of the year. The work was filmed at a variety of locations in the city, including Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center overlooking the Hudson River in the Bronx. That's where a new work called "Testament" was filmed, and it is a tribute to Ailey's resilience.
Yannick Lebrun is obsessed with music. "I listen to all kinds—world music, gospel, R&B, reggae, Caribbean, African. There's so much on my playlist," says the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company member. Lebrun relies on different playlists before each performance to boost his energy or help him get into the mood of the piece. "Also, to be able to choreograph and be inspired, I have to have some beautiful music first," he adds. He's set pieces on his co-workers and Ailey II, and for his first performance since the pandemic shutdown, he created a solo to perform at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, in September. "The music inspires my movement."
The Partnership for New York City and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater this week released a new public service announcement aimed at encouraging New Yorkers to mask up. COVID-19 cases are mounting, with 73% of cases traced to home environments. This is where people will let down their guard during the holidays, so this PSA campaign is intended to remind New Yorkers to push through pandemic fatigue and follow protocols.
As part of the free Ailey Forward first-ever virtual holiday season celebrating six decades of Revelations, comes tonight's world premiere of A Jam Session for Troubling Times on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's website. It's the latest work from acclaimed Ailey dancer and choreographer Jamar Roberts. During his Zoom chat with WBGO News Director Doug Doyle, Roberts talked about how the December 14 virtual world premiere (7:30pm) that marks the centennial (dubbed Bird100) of jazz revolutionary saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker.
In normal times, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater would now be encamped at New York City Center for the month, inspiring awe and bringing joy. This year, everything is virtual: a mix of archival and newly filmed video, supplemented with conversations, available free on the company’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Through the end of December, you can enjoy free virtual performances from The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing and former company member Yusha-Marie Sorzano discuss Ailey Forward and their new ballet Testament, as a celebration of Revelations 60th anniversary.