Masazumi Chaya, a beloved animating spirit of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre since 1972, first decided to retire in 1986. But Ailey asked him to stay on as an assistant to the rehearsal director, and so Chaya stayed, and stayed - through Ailey's death, two changeovers of artistic director, and several generations of dancers. Now, as Chaya finally follows through on his retirement plan, the company honors its associate artistic director with a tribute evening on Dec. 22, part of its five-week season at City Center.
After 48 years with the celebrated Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, both as performer and choreographer, Masazumi Chaya is hanging up his dancing shoes. The Japanese-American artist will start the new year by retiring as the modern dance company's artistic director. But the man known as "The Keeper of the Flame" to some colleagues is working until his very last day with the renowned dance troupe, whose members will celebrate his legacy with a special evening of performances on Sunday at New York's City Center. He got his nickname for preserving the New York City-based company's repertoire and for training generations of dancers through the past three decades.
For 47 years, Masazumi Chaya has overseen Alvin Ailey's dancers - and now he's ready to move on. Masazumi Chaya, a doctor and nurse's son from Japan, expected to go to medical school. But at 17, he took a jazz-dance class and started performing on TV shows there. By 21, he wondered just how good a dancer he really was. He wanted to test himself - so he went to New York.
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.
Dance Magazine - You Can Now View More Than 10,000 Photos From Jack Mitchell's Alvin Ailey Collection Online
From 1961 to 1994, legendary photographer Jack Mitchell captured thousands of moments with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Now, this treasure trove of dance history is available to the public for viewing via the online archives of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
On a stage in the jewel box theater at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre headquarters, the vibrant warmth and quick wit of the man who capped a 15-year career performing with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with 30 years as the company's associate artistic director - Masazumi Chaya - charmed and delighted an adoring audience. With host Renee Robinson, herself a former Ailey dancers (1981-2012), the two created a most engaging evening of dance history.
Alvin Ailey American Dnace Theater announced Thursday that Jamar Roberts will be the company's first resident choreographer. Mr. Roberts, a veteran company member, will begin his tenure with "Ode," an examination of the value of life in an era of pervasive gun violence. The work for six dancers will debut on Dec. 10 as a part of Ailey's five-week season at New York City Center.
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.
When the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company takes to the stage of New York City Center for the opening of its 60th anniversary on Wednesday night, it will have an unexpected guest of sorts. Namely, Alvin Ailey himself.