AAADT's Vernard Gilmore students from The Ailey School Junior Division in Hope Boykin's Chasing the Spirit 2023 Ailey Spirit Gala.
AAADT’s Vernard Gilmore students from The Ailey School Junior Division in Hope Boykin’s Chasing the Spirit 2023 Ailey Spirit Gala.
Photo by Christopher Duggan

The spectacular Ailey Spirit Gala was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center last Wednesday night for the first time ever.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, the evening celebrated the art and soul of dance with a sensational one-night-only performance followed by a joyful afterparty.

Grammy® Award-winning singer-songwriter, activist, and Golden Globe-winning actress Andra Day served as the Honorary Chair for the evening, and the gala co-chairs were Len and Emily Blavatnik, Ailey Trustee Dr. Danielle Robinson and the Reverend Dwayne McClary, and Ailey Board Chair Daria L. Wallach and Eric J. Wallach.

Proceeds will support Ailey’s extensive educational and training programs for young people, including Arts in Education & Community Programs such as AileyCamp, and scholarships to The Ailey School.

According to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, West African drummers from Ailey Extension got the evening started with a bang, “delivering an extraordinary drum and dance demonstration titled Djoutalla, led by Ailey instructor Maguette Camara.

“Guests experienced a powerful performance that united all parts of the Ailey organization for a piece d’occasion entitled Chasing the Spirit created by choreographer and former Ailey Company member Hope Boykin,” it said. “For this momentous occasion, the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater took the stage with outstanding dancers from Ailey II, brilliant students from The Ailey School, and youngsters from AileyCamp.

“The uplifting performance culminated with a memorable excerpt of Alvin Ailey’s timeless masterpiece Revelations,” it added.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater said prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy and politics attended the gala, including Jillian Hervey (Lion Babe), Damaris Lewis, Karen Pittman, Robin Roberts, and others.

After the performance, Ailey’s Board of Trustees and guests flocked to The Appel Room for a festive soirée with musical stylings from DJ M.O.S.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and 2023 Honorary Chair, Andra Day (third from left) dancing at 2023 Ailey Spirit Gala.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and 2023 Honorary Chair, Andra Day (third from left) dancing at 2023 Ailey Spirit Gala. Photo by Donna Ward

Ailey’s spring festivities continue when the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s New York City season from Jun. 6-11, with seven performances in the BAM Howard Gillman Opera House.

The company brings its passionate energy and dazzling technique back to BAM for the first time since 2010 with two exuberant programs of recent works and classic audience favorites: Brooklyn Bonds — featuring recent and rarely performed pieces by renowned choreographers Kyle Abraham, Ronald K. Brown, and Twyla Tharp; and All Ailey — with cherished Ailey works including the must-see Revelations.

Following these delightful performances, Ailey Extension encourages people of all ages and experience levels to join in the dance at special workshops and weekly classes led by elite NYC instructors and guest artists.

From now through June 30, Ailey is taking over the heart of New York City on Fridays at 5:00 p.m. with Dance in Times Square, a series of high-spirited free outdoor dance parties presented in partnership with Times Square Alliance.

The festivities culminate on Thursday, Aug. 10 with a special celebration commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop.

Fans feeling inspired by Ailey’s fascinating performances can also explore their own artistic freedom with Company member Ashley Kaylynn Green during a Contemporary Fusion Workshop on Sunday, June 25 at 3:00 p.m.

Youngsters can feel the joy of dance during Kids and Teens Summer session (June 4 – 25) which helps toddlers (2 years old), children (5-11) and teens (12-17) explore movement in a judgment-free zone surrounded by their peers; and Ailey Experience NYC (Aug. 7-11), which introduces young dancers (ages 9-18) to the exciting world of choreography and the rich history of Alvin Ailey’s signature style.

For more information on ways to get moving with Ailey either in-studio at The Joan Weill Center for Dance — New York’s largest building dedicate to dance—or online from the comfort of wherever you are, please visit

Young dancers can register now to keep moving into the 2023-2024 school year with The Ailey School’s Junior Division classes taught by experienced and distinguished faculty members.

Starting Wednesday, June 1, students ages 7-17 can register to audition for the Pre-Professional Program, which includes classical ballet training enriched by modern, West African, Spanish, tap, and character techniques to develop well-rounded young dancers.

Enrollment for First Steps & Bounding Boys, a program of fun exercises allowing children ages three to six years old to develop proper dance technique as they explore creativity and improve coordination, opens on Wednesday, June 7 for new families.

For more information about The Ailey School’s Junior Division programs, including how to register or audition, please visit