Jacqueline Green in Alvin Ailey’s ‘Cry.’ Photo by Paul Kolnik
Tonight is Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s official Opening Night at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Robert Battle’s first world premiere as artistic director, Awakening, is one of four works that Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will bring to life during the Opening Night performance.
In addition to Awakening, Opening Night repertory will include the world premiere of Ronald K. Brown’s Cuban-influenced Open Door. Open Door is set to vibrant music from Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s latest album Cuba: The Conversation Continues, and is heavily inspired by Brown’s travels to the island over the years. Also gracing the Atlanta stage tonight is Alvin Ailey’s beloved classic Cry, the tour-de-force solo made famous by Judith Jamison which is dedicated to “all black women everywhere. Especially our mothers.” Ailey’s perennial crowd pleaser Revelations will provide the inspiring finale of this, and all, programs.
The Company, recognized as a vital “American Cultural Ambassador” to the world, is visiting Atlanta as part of a 20-city North American Tour. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s North American tour began at the start of Black History Month, and Ailey’s pioneering legacy of uplifting, uniting, and celebrating the human spirit lives on as the Company’s extraordinary dancers bring to life new productions of three of his classic works, along with a wide array of premieres, and the American masterpiece Revelations.
Yesterday, Ailey kicked off its Atlanta engagement with “Ailey Fan Night,” a special performance with all tickets priced at $25. Including tonight, there are still five more opportunities to experience the Ailey magic through Sunday, February 14. Ailey extends an invitation to bring a loved one to the Valentine’s Day performance on Sunday, February 14 at 3 p.m. On Saturday, February 13, Ailey fans are invited to bring the whole family to the Family Matinee program at 2 p.m. The Family Matinee program includes a free post-performance Q&A with the dancers buy one, get one at 50% off ticket prices.
2015-2016 Atlanta Programs
ATLANTA, GA FOX THEATRE
Wednesday, 2/10@ 8:00pm Blues Suite / No Longer Silent / Love Songs, Revelations
Thursday, 2/11@ 8:00pm Open Door, Cry / Awakening / Revelations
Friday, 2/12@ 8:00pm Exodus / Piazzolla Caldera / Revelations
Saturday, 2/13@ 2:00pm Open Door, Cry / Awakening / Revelations
Saturday, 2/13@ 8:00pm Exodus / No Longer Silent / Revelations
Sunday, 2/14@ 3:00pm Open Door, Cry / Awakening / Revelations
2015-2016 Atlanta Highlights
Choreography by Robert Battle Music: John Mackey
Using his signature taut, ritualistic choreographic style and a score by composer John Mackey, Battle’s first world premiere since becoming artistic director follows a community on a cathartic journey from lamentation to peace. Buoyed by the complex rhythmic quality of Mackey’s music (“Turning” and “The Attentions of Souls”, the third movement from the symphony “Wine-Dark Sea”) and a cast of over a dozen of Ailey’s extraordinary dancers, Battle’s eagerly-anticipated work is a powerful dance of dissonance and harmony, chaos and resolution.
Choreography by Ronald K. Brown Music: Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
Ronald K. Brown is renowned for his signature blend of modern dance and West African idioms in works that often lead into deeper examinations of issues of spirituality, community responsibility, and liberation. Open Door is a new work set to the music of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, adding a new flavor to his signature style. The title hints at the power of dance and music in opening pathways to culture and compassion.
Choreography by Rennie Harris Music: Original compositions by Raphael Xavier, “A New Deal” by Ost & Kjex
Acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie (Lorenzo) Harris created a recent world premiere that explores the idea of “exodus” – from one’s ignorance and conformity – as a necessary step toward enlightenment. Set to gospel and house music along with spoken word, the work underscores the crucial role of action and movement in effecting change. Exemplifying his view of hip hop as a “celebration of life,” Exodus marks Harris’ latest invitation to return to spiritual basics and affirm who we are. His previous contributions to the Ailey repertory include Home (2011) and Love Stories (2004), an acclaimed collaboration with Judith Jamison and Robert Battle.
Choreography by Paul Taylor Music: Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky
Set to music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky, Piazzolla Caldera is a finely wrought work sizzling with erotic energy by modern dance master Paul Taylor that captures the essence of tango culture. Men and women engage in a series of fiery encounters, in turns playful and predatory, in vivid duets and trios through the work’s four sections in this passionate homage to tango’s Argentinian working class roots.
No Longer Silent
Choreography: Robert Battle Music: Erwin Schulhoff
No Longer Silent is a large ensemble work featuring the imaginative interplay of four groups of dancers evoking a complex and mysterious ritual to Erwin Schulhoff’s percussive score “Ogelala.” Originally created in 2007 for The Juilliard School, Robert Battle’s alma mater, it was part of a concert of choreography that brought to life long-forgotten scores by composers whose work the Nazis had banned. Powerful phrases stir the imagination with images of flight and fatigue, chaos and unity, and collectivity and individualism as dancers travel in military rows. Created between 1922-1924, the music tells the story of a pre-Columbian Mexican warrior and its ever-shifting mechanical cadence is the backdrop against which the dancers, dressed in all black, dramatically build to the work’s piercing conclusion. Lamentably, the composer was denied employment after the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia and, after being prevented from emigrating, died of tuberculosis in the Wülzburg concentration camp in 1942.
Alvin Ailey Music: Traditional (All Performances with Live Music)
“Blood memories” of rural, Depression-era southern Texas, come to life in Alvin Ailey’s hugely popular Blues Suite, his first masterpiece that launched the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the inaugural 1958 performance. With the rumble of a train and the toll of distant bells, a cast of vividly-drawn characters from the barrelhouses and fields of Alvin Ailey’s southern childhood are summoned to dance and revel through one long, sultry night. Ailey’s first masterpiece poignantly evokes the sorrow, humor and humanity of the blues, those heartfelt songs that he called “hymns to the secular regions of the soul.” All season performances will be to music from a live, on-stage band.
Choreography by Alvin Ailey Music: Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, Voices of East Harlem
In 1971, Alvin Ailey choreographed the ballet Cry, as a birthday present for his mother Mrs. Lula Cooper, and created the dance on his stunning muse, Judith Jamison. It was an instant sensation and went on to become an enduring work of American art. This physically and emotionally demanding 16-minute solo is dedicated to “all black women everywhere – especially our mothers.” The solo is made up of three parts – the first set to Alice Coltrane’s “Something about John Coltrane,” the second to Laura Nyro’s “Been on a Train” and the last has the Voices of East Harlem singing “Right On, Be Free.” Ms. Jamison, who has since taught the treasured role to subsequent generations of Ailey women, wrote of the work in her autobiography Dancing Spirit: “In my interpretation, she represented those women before her who came from the hardships of slavery, through the pain of losing loved ones, through overcoming extraordinary depressions and tribulations. Coming out of a world of pain and trouble, she has found her way-and triumphed.”
Choreography by Alvin Ailey Music: Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone
Love Songs, a three-part technical and dramatic tour-de-force originally created for the legendary Dudley Williams, is often viewed as the male counterpart to Cry, the famous woman’s solo that Mr. Ailey originally choreographed for his muse, Judith Jamison. The suite opens with Donny Hathaway’s tender “A Song For You,” followed by Nina Simone’s rendition of “A Field of Poppies,” an anti-narcotics song in which the audience witnesses the man’s descent into self-destruction, and closes with Hathaway singing “He Aint Heavy” as the dancer travels around the stage bearing an imaginary load with resolve. The work gives the soloist a unique opportunity to display both the power and gentleness of the male dancer while digging deep into all the aspects of his relationships – with himself, his fellow man, his brother.