Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater holiday season engagement kicks off

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Jacquelin Harris.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Jacquelin Harris.
Photo by Dario Calmese

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater kicked off its 2022 holiday season engagement with a start-studded one-night only gala benefit on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7:00 p.m., complete with an exceptional performance at New York City Center followed by a dinner-party at the Ziegfeld Ballroom.The theater said in a statement on Tuesday that this year’s gala honors 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.
Honorary Chair for the evening was two-time Emmy®-winning TV host, journalist, author and producer Tamron Hall.
The event’s 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 were Jill & Gunther Bright, Anthony S. Kendall, Anthony A. Lewis, and Raina & Jack Pitts.

This gala featured a specifically staged excerpt of 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 Nine Sinatra Songs by Twyla Tharp, highlights from Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature, a perennial favorite set to a sparkling score by Duke Ellington; and Artistic Director Robert Battle’s tender Unfold danced to Gustave Charpentier’s exquisite aria (“Louise, Act III, Depuis Le Jour”) sung live by Brandie Sutton.
The performance culminated with the inspiring finale of Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece “Revelations.”

Following the performance, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy and politics were expected to gather for an evening of dinner and dancing at the Ziegfeld Ballroom.
Expected guests include Erika Alexander, Karamo Brown, Wilson Cruz, Sunny Hostin, Bianca Lawson, Harry Lennix, Christian Siriano, Bevy Smith, Pose’s Ryan Jamaal Swain, LaChanze, Lorraine Toussaint, Danielle Moné Truitt (“Law & Order: Organized Crime”) and Larry Wilmore.

On Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m., Ailey reveals the world premiere of acclaimed choreographer and MacArthur Genius Kyle Abraham’s “Are You in Your Feelings?” – “a celebration of Black culture, Black music and the youthful spirit that perseveres in us all.”

Scored to a “mixtape” of soul, hip-hop, and R&B, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said this work “explores the connections among music, communication and personal memory.”
Ailey & Ellington on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2:00 p.m., showcases four of the 14 ballets Alvin Ailey created that celebrate the musical genius of Duke Ellington, including Night Creature, Reflections in D Pas de Duke and The River.

A modern dance translation of a classical pas de deux, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said Pas de Duke was created in 1976 honoring two of the most renowned dancers in the world, Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Choreographed for American Ballet Theatre in 1970, “The River” is a suite with eight movements set to Ellington’s only symphonic score written specifically for dance.

Paul Taylor’s Duet makes it’s New York City Center debut on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Set to the music of Franz Josef Haydn, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said “this brief and beautifully shaped ballet is a testament to the simplicity and clarity of his craft.
“This work portrays a love, perhaps not new, but rather tried and true,” it said.

Jamar Roberts’ “In a Sentimental Mood” makes its New York City Center debut on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2:00 p.m.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said it’s “an intimate scene from the domestic life of a couple that becomes an exploration of love and desire.”

Using an original composition by Duke Ellington and four jazz standards given an avant-garde twist by composer Rafiq Bhatia, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said Roberts “bridges the past and present, making these musical classics freshly relevant and timely.”

On Saturday afternoons Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater urges the public to “enjoy a lively performance and stay afterwards for a free Q&A with the acclaimed Ailey dancers in the theater.”

Ailey fans around the world are also invited to join Director of Ailey Extension and former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company member Lisa Johnson-Willingham for a free online Revelations Around the World Workshop on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 3:00 p.m.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said dancers across the globe will come together virtually to learn excerpts of choreography from Ailey’s signature masterpiece “Revelations.”
Since its premiere in 1960, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations has consistently enraptured audiences all over the world with its perfect blend of reverent grace and spiritual elation.

Using African American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs, and holy blues, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said its timeless masterpiece “fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.

“This enduring classic is a tribute to that tradition, born out of the choreographer’s ‘blood memories’ of his childhood in rural Texas and the Baptist Church,” it said.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said Revelations has been performed continuously around the globe, transcending barriers of faith and nationality, and appealing to universal emotions, making it one of the most recognized ballets in the world.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, returns to New York City Center Nov. 30 – Dec. 24, 2022, for a season that has become a joyous winter tradition.
Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers move audiences with world and company premieres by Kyle Abraham, Jamar Roberts, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp.

In addition to repertory favorites and the must-see American masterpiece “Revelations,” founder Alvin Ailey’s choreography is spotlighted with a new production of Survivors and the staging of over half a dozen classics, including works from the legendary collaboration with Duke Ellington danced to live music at some performances.

Tickets can be purchased at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix® at (212) 581-1212, or online at alvinailey.org or nycitycenter.org.
For further information, visit alvinailey.org.

More from Around NYC