The story took flight with a chance encounter at the 60th Street post office in Manhattan. It was the mid-'90s and Denise Jefferson, then head of The Ailey School, and Edward Bristow, then dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, would often bump into each other in the neighborhood. At that point, both schools were already looking for ways to expand their relationship, and Jefferson had previously floated the idea of starting a BFA program. While standing in line to buy stamps, Bristow says, their friendly chitchat set in motion an idea to form a planning committee tasked with creating a BFA program that would change the lives of scores of young dancers.
Ahtoy Juliana is an instructor with Ailey Extension and the Artistic Director of BAILA Society, a multi-faceted Latin dance and theater company that celebrates Latin dance and music heritage through its international repertory company, online dance academy, live classes, and community events. For more details on how people of all ages can get moving with Ailey to salsa and other techniques, check out alvinailey.org/extension.
TweetBoogie is a celebrated dancer and choreographer whose hip hop classes at Ailey Extension help introduce people from all walks of life to the culture through the element of dance. TweetBoogie teaches beginner hip hop at Ailey Extension on Sundays at 2pm and Mondays at 6:30pm. For more details on how people of all ages can get moving with Ailey to hip hop and other techniques, check out alvinailey.org/extension.
The pioneering company’s warmth and athletic grace is showcased in a selection of old and new work. There’s something generous about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It’s there in the dancing – full of skill, passion and a charismatic warmth not always seen in contemporary dance companies. It’s there too in the programming: at Sadler’s Wells over the coming week, the company will perform four carefully curated bills, full of rarely seen and new work. At the same time, the young company Ailey II sets off on tour around Britain, with more treats planned.
Of all the troupes who from time to time visit these shores, I’m not sure any is more consistently welcome or rewarding than Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Formed in New York in 1958 by their namesake to give black American dancers a “voice”, this resplendent ensemble is back in England for the first time in four years, following a brief sojourn at the Edinburgh International Festival. One offer during their 12-day stay at Sadler’s Wells is a full four programmes of works, of which Tuesday’s, Contemporary Voices, was the first. And, not for the first time, they royally brought the house down.
After a life of movement, a stroke left the dancer and choreographer unable to walk. Now recovering and choreographing a show at Sadler’s Wells, he’s in no mood to slow down.
As we close out the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, it’s only fitting to pay homage to not just the rappers and singers who paved the way but also the creatives who sculpted the culture on the dance floor. Dancer and choreographer Tweet Boogie, known in some circles as Tweetie, has danced with and for icons such as Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Jazmine Sullivan and Janet Jackson since she was barely out of her teens.
The American company brought Ailey’s legendary Revelations, still hugely powerful after 65 years, alongside modern pieces of precision and fire. The thing about the dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is that they are precision performers – technique visible, placings academic – but at the same time, they can elasticate and undulate their bodies; they can be sensual and spiritual. Above all, they dance with great sincerity.