Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Hannah Alissa Richardson.
Photo by Nir Arieli

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), an American cultural ambassador to the world, on Monday received awards for Outstanding Company and Best Modern Choreography for Kyle Abraham’s “Are you in Your Feelings?” from the 2023 UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards.

The only awards given by the body of professional dance critics in the UK, they recognize excellence in the field of dance presented on the United Kingdom (UK) stages between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2023.

Interim Artistic Director Matthew Rushing attended the celebratory gala on Monday to receive the award on behalf of the company.

AAADT was also shortlisted for the UK Critic’s Circle National Dance Award nominations for Outstanding Male Modern Performance for Yannick Lebrun in Dancing Spirit and Outstanding Female Modern Performance for Constance Stamatiou in Cry.

For audiences eager to experience AAADT in New York, the company said it will be performing this week at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), from June 4-9, with two robust programs featuring stunning works by Jamar Roberts, Hans van Manen and Alonzo King, as well as iconic Ailey classics Memoria, A Song for You, Cry, and the transcendent masterpiece Revelations.

AAADT said acclaimed choreographer Kyle Abraham’s newest work, “Are You in Your Feelings?” is “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, AAADT said it “highlights the bridge between music, communication and personal memory.”

Alvin Ailey dancer, Hannah Richardson.
Alvin Ailey dancer, Hannah Richardson.Photo by Nir Arieli

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at The 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.

The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents–as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings and online platforms.

In 2008, a US Congressional resolution designated the company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

“When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his ‘blood memories’ of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations,” AAADT said.

“Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Mr. Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work,” it added.

Today, the company said it continues Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones.

In all, more than 235 works by over 90 choreographers have been part of its repertory, AAADT said.

Before his untimely death in 1989, Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, “she brought the company to unprecedented success,” AAADT said.

Jamison, in turn, personally selected Robert Battle to succeed her in 2011, who led the company until 2023.

The National Dance Awards have been organized by the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle in each year of this millennium to celebrate the vigor and variety of Britain’s thriving dance culture.

They are presented by the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle, which brings together over 60 dance writers and critics.

The Critics’ Circle also awards outstanding creators and artists in theater, music, film, visual arts and books.