Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns with Boston premieres, new productions and company classics
Celebrity Series of Boston presents the return of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to the city from May 4-7, 2023. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey dancers will again move and thrill audiences with Boston premieres, returning favorites, and a new production of Survivors – the late-period Ailey work co-choreographed with Mary Barnett as a tribute to Nelson and Winnie Mandela. The signature Ailey masterpiece Revelations closes each program.
Performances are: Thu. May 4, Fri. May 5, Sat. May 6 @ 8pm; Sat. May 6 @ 2pm; and Sun. May 7 @ 3pm at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St. in Boston.
A free community event, May 3 @ 7 pm at the Kroc Center in Dorchester, Mass. features Ailey company dancer Yannick Lebrun leading participants through excerpts from Alvin Ailey’s Revelations and Night Creature. Stress-releasing stretches, inspiring movements from iconic Ailey works and motivation to express oneself anchors a fun, free, all-ages workshop. Details and RSVP here.
Choreographers showcased during the company’s five-performance run include founder Alvin Ailey, Artistic Director Robert Battle, contemporary dancemakers Jamar Roberts and Kyle Abraham, and acclaimed veterans Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor. Four works on the program are Boston premieres.
Opening Night Program on Thu. May 4 at 8 pm, and its repeat on Sat. May 6 at 8 pm will feature Jamar Roberts’ In a Sentimental Mood, Paul Taylor’s DUET, Kyle Abraham’s Are You in Your Feelings?, and Alvin Ailey’s classic Revelations.
Jamar Roberts’ In a Sentimental Mood is the fifth piece he has created for the Ailey company, sets an intimate scene from the domestic life of a couple that becomes an exploration of love and desire. Paul Taylor’s 1964 DUET is set to the music of Franz Josef Haydn, and serves as a testament to the simplicity and clarity of Taylor’s craft. Acclaimed choreographer Kyle Abraham’s newest work Are You in Your Feelings? the dancemaker’s third for the Ailey Company, celebrates Black culture, Black music and the youthful spirit in all of us. Since its creation in 1960, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations has been seen globally by more audiences than any other modern dance work, inspiring generations with powerful storytelling and soul-stirring spirituals.
The performance on Fri. May 5 at 8 pm, and its repeat on Sun. May 7 at 3 pm features Twyla Tharp’s Roy’s Joys, Alvin Ailey’s Survivors, and Revelations.
Twyla Tharp’s 1997 Roy’s Joys premiered on the Ailey Company in 2022. This sultry work embodies the spontaneity of a 1940s and ‘50s jazz soundtrack by Roy Eldridge. Survivors is Alvin Ailey’s impassioned tribute to the profound courage and anguish of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, which broadly portrays a portrait of people transformed by injustice.
The matinee performance on Sat. May 6 at 2 pm will feature Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature, Robert Battle’s For Four and Unfold, and Ailey’s Revelations.
Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature (1975), also with music by Duke Ellington, is one of his most popular works: a bubbly champagne cocktail of a dance that fuses buoyant choreography with sparkling music in a definitive homage to “The Duke.” In making For Four (2021) Robert Battle took inspiration (and a cheeky title) from Wynton Marsalis’s delicious jazz score – written in 4/4 time. Four Ailey dancers recreate how pent-up energy turns into a drive to perform and a desire to create. Battle’s sensuous, swirling duet Unfold (2007) evokes the tenderness and ecstasy in composer Gustave Charpentier’s “Depuis le jour,” from the opera Louise, sung by the legendary Leontyne Price.
Artistic Director Robert Battle says “We are excited to step back onto the Wang Theatre stage with this season’s repertory. These dances connect audiences with some of the richest, deepest works Alvin Ailey choreographed, shows off the brilliance of our dancers in pieces by Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor, who were great contemporaries of Mr. Ailey’s, and introduces amazing new works by Kyle Abraham and Jamar Roberts that find reservoirs of love and resilience in our complicated lives and times. This season overflows with the joy of connections—eclectic, surprising, moving connections—between eras, between dancemakers, and between people.”
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater tickets start at $29, available online at celebrityseries.org or in person at the Boch Center Wang Theatre box office, 270 Tremont Street in Boston. Wang Theater box office hours are Tue-Sat, 12 noon-6 pm. Groups of 10 or more qualify for discounts; more information available at 617-532-1116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.