Andrew Eccles|Colin Williams|Andrew Eccles

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will kick-off a five-week New York season on Nov. 30 with a star-studded gala benefit at New York City Center that begins an exciting new era led by Artistic Director Robert Battle.

Honorary chairs for the special evening are First Lady Michelle Obama and the legendary model Iman.

Nine-time Grammy Award-winner John Legend will join Ailey’s Alicia Graf Mack in an exclusive live performance of “If It’s Magic,” choreographed by Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison to the timeless music of Stevie Wonder.

Attendees will also enjoy the company premiere of modern dance master Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, a one-night-only performance of Lar Lubovitch’s duet “Prelude to a Kiss,” and Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece “Revelations,” with live music and a cast of 50.

“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is not only one of the world’s most popular dance companies, but a cultural treasure that renews your spirit with each performance,” said Iman, one of the evening’s honorary chairs. “I can’t wait to see the curtain go up on Ailey’s extraordinary dancers and share in a moment of true revelry.”

John Legend (fifth from left) with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Photo Colin Williams
Colin Williams

The benefit will honor Kimberly B. Davis, president of The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, for all of J.P. Morgan’s wonderful support of Ailey’s educational and community programs over the years. The event’s co-chairs are Simin & Herb Allison, Kathryn & Kenneth Chenault, Agnes & Gerald Hassell, Linda & Sandy Lindenbaum, Sharon C. Taylor and Joan & Sandy Weill.

The 2011-12 season marks an historic moment as Robert Battle takes the helm as only the third artistic director in the company’s 53-year history, following the illustrious Judith Jamison and founder Alvin Ailey himself.

“I’m honored by the great responsibility to lead this magnificent company,” Battle said. “The Gala Benefit is the perfect opportunity to support and celebrate Ailey’s vital legacy as we begin to journey in exciting new directions.”

Proceeds from the gala will benefit Ailey’s educational programs, including scholarships and innovative outreach programs.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Linda Celeste Sims and Antonio Douthit in Paul Taylor’s “Arden Court.”
Photo by Andrew Eccles
Andrew Eccles