AAADT begins holiday season with star-studded Opening Night Gala

AAADT's Constance Stamatiou with students of The Ailey School in Maruo Bigonzetti's Festa Barocca Ailey's 2022 ONG.
AAADT’s Constance Stamatiou with students of The Ailey School in Maruo Bigonzetti’s Festa Barocca Ailey’s 2022 ONG.
Photo by Christopher Duggan

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Wednesday, Nov. 30 kicked off its four-week holiday season with a star-studded Opening Night Gala complete with a performance and party led by Artistic Director Robert Battle with two-time Emmy-winning TV host, journalist, author and producer Tamron Hall as honorary chair.

The theater said the spirited occasion celebrated Honoree Philanthropist Denise Littlefield Sobel, “a true patron of the arts and champion for social equity, who is leaving an indelible mark on the dance world.”

“Her dedication and commitment to the Ailey organization has spanned two decades with vital support for essential artistic initiatives, like the commissioning of new works and international touring,” it said.

The evening’s program featured a one-night-only performance of an excerpt from acclaimed Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti’s Festa Barocca with Constance Stamatiou and talented students from The Ailey School, Jacquelin Harris and

James Gilmer in the “Softly, As I Leave You” romantic duet from Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs; highlights from Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature, a perennial favorite set to a sparkling score by Duke Ellington; and Robert Battle’s tender Unfold danced to Gustave Charpentier’s exquisite aria (“Louise, Act III, Depuis Le Jour”) sung live by Brandi Sutton.

The performance culminated with Alvin Ailey’s inspiring must-see masterpiece Revelations.
Afterwards, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said the celebration continued at the iconic Ziegfeld Ballroom, where nearly 500 guests joined Robert Battle for dinner and dancing, with live music by the premier band Élan Artists.

Special guests in attendance from the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy and politics included Erika Alexander, Sunny Hostin, Harry Lennix, Bevy Smith, Pose’s Ryan Jamaal Swain, LaChanze, Danielle Moné Truitt (“Law &

Order: Organized Crime”), Brynn Whitfield (“Real Housewives of New York”), Larry Wilmore and many more.

The gala co-chairs were Emily & Len Blavatnik, Howard Bradnock, Daria L & Eric J. Wallach, Joan & Sandy Weill and Pamela D. Zilly & John H. Schaefer; vice chairs are Jill & Gunther Bright, Anthony S. Kendall, Anthony A. Lewis, and Raina & Jack Pitts.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said over $2.7 million was raised in support of the creation of new works, scholarships to The Ailey School and Ailey’s educational programs for children.

Throughout the holiday engagement, which ends with two performances on Christmas Eve, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said its “remarkable artists” will unveil four premieres, a new production, special live music programs, and a variety of returning favorites, including Alvin Ailey’s must-see masterpiece Revelations.

This year, all was invited to join in the dance on Sat., Dec. 3 with Revelations Around the World – a free online global celebration where people from all over the world came together to learn the steps of this beloved American classic.

The company said it will continue to inspire audiences from coast to coast on a National Tour to over 20 cities from February – May 2023.

For information on how to experience the magic of Ailey, visit