Some 40 students from Stapleton's Dreyfus Intermediate School spent a Thursday afternoon they won't soon forget. New York City's First Lady Chirlane McCray welcomed the 6th, 7th and 8th graders to Gracie Mansion to participate in an Alvin Ailey Dance Workshop exploring Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's signature masterpiece, "Revelations," to celebrate Black History Month.
When Nehprii Amenii of Brooklyn walked into Newark Arts High School for the first time this summer, she was prepared to be hit with what she called "full cannons of attitude." Since then, she has been spending weekdays teaching creative communication to 11 to 14 year-olds as part of AileyCamp, a full-day summer program offered by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and financed, in Newark, entirely by the Prudential Foundation.
The Prudential Foundation is funding Newark's first AileyCamp, a summer camp that embodies Prudential's belief in arts education as a means of revitalizing struggling communities while educating the future work force.
The Star-Ledger - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's AileyCamp Debuts in Newark with 100 Eager Students
Dance teacher Wayne Williams stood at the lip of the Newark Arts High stage, his back to the two dozen black-clad students lined up behind him. "Where are your hands?" he asked over his shoulder. "Out" they shouted. "Chin?" he called. "Up," they said. "Stomach?" "In," they replied a few giggles distupting their perfect unison.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed 39 times in December to enthusiastic packed houses at New York City Center, but there was a special quality to the cheering with which an equally large - but significantly younger - audience responded one Thursday morning during the season.
Few dance companies carry the worldwide name recognition of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. And even fewer dance works boast the influential artistic legacy of Ailey's Revelations, which the New York TImes hailed as "modern dance's unquestionable greatest hit."
At 1:45 P.M. at Bea Fuller Rogers Middle School in New York City's Washington Heights neighborhood, high-pitched laughter, chatter, and screams reverberate through the hallways. But inside a small dance studio on the second floor, the atmosphere is different. Two dozen seventh-graders stand silently in a wedge formation, an inverted triangle with one student at the point.
"We could hear you, a little bit, upstairs," Michelle Obama said, one day last month, to the eighty children pulling down their leotard elastics over their small rear ends in the East Room of the White House. When she walked onstage, what looked like eighty children took pictures of her with their cell phones.
In the end, it was a wonder the three massive chandeliers gracing the White House East Room remained intact, given the high-voltage expenditure of human engery taking place beneath them.
The work of Alvin Ailey — the legendary dancer and choreographer — lives on through his ground-breaking dance troupe, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.