Rennie Harris is one of the great dance makers of our time. In adapting hip-hop dance to the concert stage, he is at once authentic, imaginative and affecting. Critics have been saying that for decades, but in all that concert stages were pretty much the only places you could see what we meant. The availability of his work on video or online has been close to nil. That changes this weekend, briefly, as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater streams his "Lazarus" on its website.
The shadow of Alvin Ailey has always stood over the company he founded in 1958, as an inspiration and a guide. It does so literally here, in the first of three programmes the New York-based troupe is bringing to Sadler’s Wells.
The Telegraph - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Programe A, Sadler's Wells, Review: A Stirring And Skin-Pricklingly Exciting Evening
Alvin Ailey was born in rural Texas in 1931. Like so many other African Americans then and since, he experienced frightful racism, but astonishing talent and tenacity allowed him to claw his way up to become one of America's best-loved dancer-choreographers. He founded his own, contemporary troupe - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - in 1958 as a vehicle and haven for black Americans who wanted to dance for a living. And, although Ailey himself died in 1989, his company lives on loud and proud, under the sterling directorship of Robert Battle.
After dance pioneer Alvin Ailey died in 1989, the future of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was uncertain. It's difficult to keep a dance company profitable after its founder is long gone - many have tried and failed. But 30 years later, the group is thriving, and decided to celebrate its 60th anniversary and founder by commissioning a new work titled Lazarus.
The Philadelphia Inquirer - Rennie Harris Pays Homage To Alvin Ailey In A Masterpiece Of Street Dance
Philadelphia choreographer Rennie Harris was given an enormous assignment when he was asked to make a piece honoring Alvin Ailey (the man) for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 60th anniversary. But what Harris made was a masterpiece. Lazarus had its Philadelphia premiere Thursday night at the Academy of Music.
The Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Hip-Hop Legend Rennie Harris Returns This Weekend With America's Hottest Ballet
Choreographer Rennie Harris, international pioneer of street dance theater, isn't big on accepting praise. He might have to learn. Harris' latest work, Lazarus, his fourth and most recent commission for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, has elicited unprecedented adulation from eminent dance critics. The piece commemorates the Alvin Ailey troupe's 60 years. It makes its Philadelphia debut Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the Academy of Music, along with Ailey's iconic Revelations.
It's very telling that, even at 60, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues to break new ground. As part of its annual visit to Atlanta's Fox Theatre, the company is presenting its first ever two-part ballet, "Lazarus," in honor of the company's 60th anniversary season.
In the sun-soaked foyer of Atlanta's National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a tall, lean young man guided about 40 dance students last month as they learned an excerpt from Alvin Ailey's masterpiece Revelations. Christopher R. Wilson, a native of Augusta, Georgia, and a first-year member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, moved with ease and elegance between lines of young dancers, calling directions in a voice that matched the choreography's rhythm and cadence.
Sometimes, the less said, the better. Even when kicking off a triumphant occasion, such as the 60th anniversary of a modern dance company, which is, by the way, a monumental mile-marker in the economically stressed field of dance. On Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center, Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle kept his opening remarks blissfully simple. At the D.C. premiere of a work he'd commissioned to celebrate six decades as a primarily African American dance company, Battle spoke of the late company founder Ailey as 'a black man who had a vision 60 years ago, and here we are, living in his wake."
Judith Jamison discusses Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s engagement at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre during the 60th anniversary, including the world premiere of Rennie Harris’ Lazarus.