December 6, 2020—One of my favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season during the month of December has been to take my daughter to see several performances of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as it kicks-off its annual season at the New York City Center.
However, like all arts organizations, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the suspension of live performances and the furloughing of staff. But instead of postponing or forgoing the 2020-2021 season launch, Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle said in media interviews: “We decided to look at the possibilities, as opposed to what isn’t possible.” Consequently, the celebrated dance company has launched its season from a virtual platform, with a gala benefit performance on December 2 that featured a documentary film, dance performances and special guest appearances. The gala is available for online viewing until December 9.
This season also marks the 60th anniversary of Mr. Ailey’s beloved masterpiece, “Revelations.” In celebration, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has created a contemporary response—“Testament”— which will have its world premiere online December 17.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is leaning into its virtual programming, with offerings aimed at a broad and diverse audience. Events include an opportunity to learn the choreography of “Revelations;” a dialogue between Robert Battle and Wynton Marsalis exploring Mr. Ailey’s collaboration with Duke Ellington, plus performance highlights from Ailey’s ballets with Ellington music.
In addition, the virtual programming will feature farewell performances honoring longtime company members; the world premiere of “A Jam Session for Troubling Times,” which is set to the music of the late jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie “Bird” Parker, and a tribute titled “Decades of Revelations,” with film and video excerpts capturing 60 years of performances of that signature work.
I urge the readers of Arts & Culture Connections to take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity to experience the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and to support this virtual programming, which you can view for free at this link. New performances will be posted weekly.
As always, I want to know what you think—please share below an Ailey performance experience you’ve previously had; your thoughts about “Revelations” (how many times have you seen it?), or share your experience with the virtual season.