The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, has officially made its return to the Fox Theatre for six performances — Feb. 20–23 — featuring three separate programs that bring its 2020 season, themed “Ailey Revealed,” to Atlanta and 21 cities across the United States.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s 32-member dance ensemble will bring to life two world premieres – celebrated choreographer Donald Byrd’s “Greenwood” and Ailey dancer and resident choreographer Jamar Roberts’s “Ode” — that shine a spotlight on social issues 

“It is my pleasure to bring the unique perspectives of so many important choreographers to the Fox stage, especially the powerful voices of Donald Byrd examining the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and (Roberts) creating an ode to all those impacted by gun violence,” Battle explained. “I know the brilliance of Ailey’s dancers will bring Atlantans to their feet as they continue to further Alvin Ailey’s legacy of holding up a mirror to society while uplifting hearts and minds with their unparalleled artistry.” 

In 1958, Alvin Ailey and a small group of dancers took the stage in New York and forever changed American dance and culture. One of the country’s groundbreaking greats, his Company inspires all in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the modern dance tradition. 

More than 60 years after its founding, Ailey continues to move forward under the leadership of Battle, revealing time and again why Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the world’s most beloved dance companies.

During the show’s four-day run, company premieres and new productions will be presented by preeminent choreographers Aszure Barton, Camille A. Brown, Judith Jamison, and Darrell Moultrie.

In addition to the exciting premieres, the inspiring finale of all programs will be Ailey’s American masterpiece “Revelations,” acclaimed around the world for sending hearts soaring and lifting audiences to their feet. 

Since its debut in 1960, “Revelations” has been seen by more people than any other modern dance work and has moved audiences around the world through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring music, evoking timeless themes of determination, hope, and transcendence. 

Springing from Ailey’s childhood memories of growing up in the south and attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas, “Revelations” pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of the African-American and explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition. 

Last night’s opening performance unveiled Roberts’s “Ode,” a meditation on the beauty and fragility of life in a time of growing gun violence. This program repeats on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. Like his critically-acclaimed “Members Don’t Get Weary” (2017), this work for six dancers features his own costume designs and a jazz score – Don Pullen’s “Suite (Sweet) Malcolm (Part 1 Memories and Gunshots).” 

A member of the Company since 2002, Roberts has become renowned for his powerful performances on world stages, including at The White House and as a guest star with London’s Royal Ballet, receiving the prestigious New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award for Outstanding Performer. 

Other works to be featured in the opening program include Artistic Director Emerita Jamison’s “Divining,” a revival of her first major choreographic effort which incorporates African polyrhythms and complex movement, as well as Alvin Ailey’s timeless classic “Cry,” the 16-minute tour-de-force solo choreographed as a birthday present to his mother and dedicated to “all black women everywhere – especially our mothers.” 

 

Tonight’s program debuts Donald Byrd’s “Greenwood,” a riveting ensemble work that draws on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as a source. Set to music by Israeli violist and composer Emmanuel Witzthum, Greenwood navigates through one of the worst incidents of racial violence in US history and explores the story through different lenses of those who were affected. 

A TONY nominee (“The Color Purple”), Bessie Award-winner (“ Minstrel Show”), and 2019 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, Byrd has been celebrated for exploring complex societal issues through dance. 

The lasting impact of a teacher’s influence on a young child is at the heart of the exuberant opening work, “Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Ounce of Faith.” This program also repeats on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. 

The matinee programs on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. feature the company premieres of Aszure Barton’s “BUSK,” an episodic look at the nature of performance and the vulnerabilities that artists face in revealing themselves onstage, and Camille A. Brown’s quietly lyrical “City of Rain,” a work honoring a close friend that passed away due to an illness that paralyzed him from the waist down. 

Brown uses the physicality and vulnerability of 10 dancers to share his story. This program also includes the return of repertory favorite “A Case of You,” an emotional and sensual duet choreographed by Jamison. 

Tickets start at $29, are now on sale at the Fox Theatre box office, 660 Peachtree Street NE, www.alvinailey.org, www.foxatltix.com or by calling 855-285-8499.

(Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik)

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