Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is the latest company to move ahead with new work while performing arts spaces remain almost completely shut down in New York. The troupe's monthlong December season will include a world premiere from Jamar Roberts, Ailey's choreographer in residence, and the debut of a collaborative response to Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano.
Masazumi Chaya starts off an interview in his office on the subject of food, recalling when he used to cook meals for his fellow Company members, including his especially popular chicken with ginger soy sauce. With his warmth, enthusiasm, and easy sense of humor, Chaya (as he is known) seems like an ideal dinner companion. The primary recipe that Chaya has developed is the singular position - Associate Artistic Director - which he has decided to relinquish following this City Center season after nearly 3 decades.
What a night. The Dance Magazine Awards yesterday at the Ailey Citigroup Theater was jam-packed with love for dance. From legendary icons to early-career choreographers we can't stop obsessing over, the Dance Magazine Awards, presented by the Dance Media Foundation, recognized a wide spectrum of our field. And with more performances than ever before, the night was an incredible celebration of the dance community. As host Wendy Perron pointed out, in many ways, we doubled the usual fun this year: Some honorees had two performances, some had two presenters, and David Gordon and Valda Setterfield were themselves, well, two awardees.
Masazumi Chaya, the associate artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1991, will retire on Jan. 5 after the company's annual City Center season. But he'll still be involved with the organization: After he steps down, Chaya, 72, will be in charge of a licensing project that will assist in the restaging of Ailey's works. Matthew Rushing, a veteran dancer and the company's rehearsal director, will take over as associate artistic director, while Ronni Favors, a former Ailey member, will become the company's rehearsal director. Clifton Brown, a current dancer, will join Linda Celeste Sims as an assistant to the rehearsal director.
Ailey's troupe, timeless yet current. New York City Center celebrated its 75th anniversary last week. That milestone nearly coincided with the annual five-week Christmas season of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the theater's first resident modern dance company, itself celebrating an anniversary this year, its 60th.
This theater, for this city. New York City Center Theater celebrated its 75th anniversary on Tuesday night. That milestone neatly coincides with the annual five-week Christmas season of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the theater’s first resident modern dance company, itself celebrating an anniversary this year: its 60th.
Onstage, Clifton Brown is a force: a dancer with enormous presence, a strong theatricality and a large-scale, lush physicality. His long, graceful arms seem to embrace the world, and he has a way of tilting his face upward so it catches the light, giving him the air of someone illuminated by thought.
Clifton Brown shares little in common with Alvin Ailey, the late legendary American dancer whose namesake company he now works for. Yes, both are African-Americans. Both are dancers of supreme athliticism. But beyond that, their backgrounds couldn't be more different.
Watching "Celebrating 'Revelations' at 50," the film tribute by Judy Kinberg that precedes the piece during the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's current season, it's notable how rough hewn - and powerful - the dancing looks in the historical footage of Ailey and others performing in that work.
In 1976, Alvin Ailey paid homage to Duke Ellington in a season that produced a particularly majestic dance: 'Three Black Kings'. The work - depicting King Balthazar, King Solomon and Martin Luther King Jr. - hasn't veen seen in its entirety in more than 30 years.