Alvin Ailey company features six local children at the Kennedy Center in its signature work. The dancers emerged onto the blue-lit stage wearing all white. In rows of two - their hands clasped - they slid across the theater floor, threw their arms above their heads and twirled. In front of them, 2,000 people sat in red velvet seats at the Kennedy Center's Opera House. But the dancers remained poised - not even the raucous cheering that echoed through the theater could melt the stern looks from the dancers' faces.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Increasingly, issues ripped from the headlines and our national debates - including race, violence and brutal episodes from history - have come to the fore in the works Battle commissions. Consider Tuesday's local premiere of "Ode," a skillful and delicate treatment of gun violence and its disproportionate claim on black men. "Ode" is by Jamar Roberts, recently named the troupe's first resident choreographer. He's also a standout dancer in the company whose appealingly soft physicality masked his strength in "A Case of You," a romantic duet with the equally effortless Jacqueline Green that both dancers whirled through beautifully, elevating choreographer Judith Jamison's overly sugary concept.
New York is a city of opportunities. People come here from all over the world to achieve their dreams and I love the diversity it creates: the sense of constant cultural exchange. Yannick Lebrun is a modern dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Originally from French Guiana, he moved to New York 15 years ago and lives in Washington Heights.
When the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre returns to Atlanta each year, it’s a joyous occasion like a family reunion, if your relatives happened to be brilliant dancers. The ensemble will perform at the Fox Theatre from Feb. 20-23. Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle and choreographer Donald Byrd will speak at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The event, “Greenwood & Stories From The Soil: Reveal, Remember, Reconcile” is free and open to the public. Battle and Byrd joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about the dance.
"There's danger in the air, and the character that I portray is supposed to resemble hope at the highest power," said Jeroboam Bozeman, a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, about his role in "Ode." In this powerful new dance created by Jamar Roberts for the company's season at City Center (through Jan. 5), the dancers explore the effects of gun violence to a jazz score by the pianist Don Pullen. In this solo, Mr. Bozeman said he sees himself "kind of like a high priestess," he said. "Someone who oversees, but also has this sense of wisdom. I think about Trayvon Martin. I think about Philando Castile. I think about Sandra Bland. I think about Eric Garner. These are people we lost to police brutality." He admires how Mr. Roberts created such a multilayered, poetic dance about such a brutal subject.
Jacqueline Green was a shy 13-year-old when her mother, considering possible schools in Baltimore, observed two qualities that her daughter possessed. "You're the artsy child," Ms. Green recalled her saying. "You're flexible." Soon after, Ms. Green found herself at a dance audition for Baltimore School for the Arts. It was not only her first audition, it was also her first ballet class. "I had on Payless tights and shoes, and I don't know where we found a leotard," Ms. Green said. "I had my hair slicked back in this bun and I thought: 'People actually do this? Holding our arms out is tiring.'"
Every so often a great dancer transcends her own brilliance, somehow expanding its outer limit. Last week at City Center, Linda Celeste Sims, a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 24 years, did just that in a rapturous performance of Ailey's 1971 "Cry," a 16-minute solo dedicated "to all black women everywhere - especially our mothers." This season Ms. Sims, 43, danced the work for the first time as a mother - she gave birth to her first child, Ellington, in May - and something shifted.
Jacqueline Green was a shy 13-year-old when her mother, considering possible schools in Baltimore, observed two qualities that her daughter possessed. “You’re the artsy child,” Ms. Green recalled her saying. “You’re flexible.” Soon after, Ms. Green found herself at a dance audition for Baltimore School for the Arts. It was not only her first audition, it was also her first ballet class. “I had on Payless tights and shoes, and I don’t know where we found a leotard,” Ms. Green said. “I had my hair slicked back in this bun and I thought: ‘People actually do this? Holding your arms out is tiring.’”
Khalia Campbell: Emotions flood through Khalia Campbell's every move. As "the umbrella woman" in Ailey's Revelations, her torso and arms ripple with joy. As a soloist in Darrell Grand Moultrie's Ounce of Faith, she turns heads with dancing that's smooth and silky, yet sharp and purposeful.
Learning Versatility, Summer by Summer: Courtney Celeste Spears. When Courtney Celeste Spears was young, she'd ask her family to skip the Christmas presents: "Just help me go to this intensive," she'd say.