Ask Francesca Harper how she felt when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle announced her appointment as artistic director of Ailey II, that internationally renowned AAADT’s acclaimed troupe of young talented dancers and she gushes with excitement declaring, “It’s kind of surreal.” Yet, in many ways the appointment seems a natural step in a rather remarkable career, as well as a promising beginning of a critically acclaimed dance company’s next chapter, and last but not least, as a perfect example of the circle of life.
In our third episode of The Freedom to Be video series, timed to coincide with #NationalDanceDay today (Sept. 18), we spotlight the Black dance community in NYC. Choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey founded his namesake company in 1958 to bring African American dance to all corners of the US—and, eventually, the world. The dance theater, which forged a space for Black creatives in times and places where it often didn’t exist, is now a fixture of New York City culture. Meet two dancers from the troupe, Yannick Lebrun and Caroline Dartey, who emigrated from French Guiana and Switzerland, respectively, to pursue their dreams. Lebrun has been with the company for almost 15 years, while Dartey is just starting her journey. Both enjoy the sense of community and freedom of expression they’ve found at Alvin Ailey.
When star dancers retire, it's always a little sad. And if those dancers are still in their prime, fans can feel an especially acute sense of loss. The performances that won't happen are easy to imagine. But in the uncommon case when the dancer has already achieved distinction as a choreographer and is retiring to focus on that craft, the loss is offset by potential gain. The dancer will be absent from the stage, but the dancer's spirit and sensibility might spread across it... On Dec. 9, Jamar Roberts is giving his farewell performance with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Few dance companies are more prestigious and competitive to get into than Manhattan-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. So, despite years of training and confidence in the skills she’d honed, Bronx native Khalia Campbell was stunned when she was asked to join in 2018. “I cried and cried,” she says. “I was totally in shock, but I was elated and I was grateful. I think that’s the best word to describe the feeling I had — grateful. One could say that it was destined to be.” “I don’t come from a musical background, but my dad was pretty musically inclined,” Campbell says of her father, who died when she was 1. “He was a DJ and he also played the drums. He used to put his headsets around my mom’s stomach when she was pregnant with me, so I just came out being able to listen to rhythm and move to it."
Alvin Ailey’s artistic director Robert Battle discusses the film “Ailey,” which profiles the legendary choreographer and includes historic performances and interviews.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Jacqueline Green is featured in “Really Love” performing an excerpt of Alvin Ailey’s Cry.
News 12 Brooklyn - Local Samba Dancing Instructor Breaks Down Transitioning To Virtual Dance Classes
The pandemic did not stop New Yorkers from working up a sweat inside their homes through virtual dance classes. From keeping the beat to ending with a strong finish, Samba instructor Danielle Lima makes sure students get in a good workout during her class even though they aren't actually in the room. The pandemic didn't stop Lima from moving her feet.
Dance Teacher - What My Teacher Taught Me: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Solomon Dumas On Lisa Johnson-Willingham
When I was in high school, my friends at The Chicago Academy for the Arts told me about Lisa Johnson-Willingham, an impressive former Ailey dancer who was teaching Horton at Joel Hall Dancers & Center on Thursday nights. I decided I ought to give her class a try. The first time I went, I didn’t even pay for class. In fact, I don’t think I ever paid for her class. She was tough as nails, but she was always generous. The room was packed with people from all over the city. From modern dancers to professional ballet dancers to young students—everyone wanted to learn from her. Her classroom got so hot from sweaty bodies that the windows completely fogged up and contrasted the cold night outside.
Last summer, Jonathan Stafford, the artistic director of New York City Ballet, was feeling isolated and anxious. It was a few months into the pandemic, and the strangeness of lockdown and the turmoil and urgency of the Black Lives Matter protests were on his mind. City Ballet’s performances, programs and plans had come to an abrupt halt — as they had for performing arts organizations across the country. No one knew when or how theaters would open again. Stafford called Robert Battle, the artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, to chat. “This is great,” Battle said after they had spoken for a while. “I wish we were talking to other artistic directors.”
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s coming season at New York City Center will celebrate Robert Battle’s 10 years as artistic director, the company announced Wednesday. After the difficulties of the past 17 months, Battle is more open to embracing the occasion than he might otherwise have been.