The 2019 Ailey engagement
A timeless repertoire of new and venerable danceworks
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater took its first NJPAC curtain calls on Prudential Hall stage as part of the Arts Center’s gala opening in October 1997. Audiences will experience that same frisson of excitement at the Ailey Ascending 60th Anniversary celebration, which concludes on Mother’s Day with a curated selection of excerpts from Alvin Ailey’s masterworks. All performances include Revelations in its entirety.
Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11, 8pm: Lazarus and Revelations
Acclaimed hip hop choreographer Rennie (Lorenzo) Harris returns to Ailey with the company’s first two-act ballet. Inspired by the life and legacy of Alvin Ailey, Harris connects past and present in a powerful work that addresses the racial inequities America faced when Ailey founded the company in 1958 and today.
More than just a popular dance work, Revelations has become a cultural treasure, beloved by generations of fans. An American classic praised as a must-see for all, Ailey’s masterpiece is a tribute to his heritage and genius. Using African-American spirituals, the work fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.
Sunday, May 12, 3pm: Timeless Ailey and Revelations
In commemoration of the 60th anniversary, a Timeless Ailey program brings gems by the company’s founder back to the stage:
Blues Suite (1958): “Good Morning Blues” section
Streams (1970): “Scherzo” section
Mary Lou’s Mass (1971): “Our Father” section
Cry (1971): “Right On, Be Free” final section
The Lark Ascending (1972): select excerpts
Love Songs (1972): “A Song for You” section
Hidden Rites (1973): “Of Love” section
Night Creature (1974): second movement
Pas de Duke (1976): female solo
Memoria (1979): excerpt
Phases (1980): “Flight Time” section
For “Bird” – With Love (1984): “A Night in Tunisia” section
Opus McShann (1986): “Gee Baby” and “Doo Wah Doo” sections
Theater-goers are invited to enjoy free Preludes presentations in the lobby an hour before curtain: a community gospel choir, directed by Kyle Smith of St. James AME Church in Newark, on May 10 and DanceWorks Studios of Montclair, directed by Kathy Costa, on May 11. On Mother’s Day, at 1:30pm, Ailey Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison is interviewed by dance writer Robert Johnson in Reflections of Cry with Judith Jamison, a conversation about this seminal work, choreographed by Ailey for his mother and first performed by Jamison in 1971.
Mother’s Day festivities wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Artisan Marketplace, featuring displays of beauty products, clothing, décor items and more, in and around the lobby. The booths open at 7pm on May 10 and 11 and at 2pm on May 12.
Free community dance workshops, spanning liturgical dance, hip hop and Horton technique, will be held during the month preceding the Ailey company engagement. Montclair High School, DanceWorks and Sharron Miller’s Academy for Performing Arts team up on April 4 from 5:30 to 6:30pm at the Montclair Art Museum at 3 South Mountain Ave. On April 6, Ailey Arts in Education sends teaching artists Theara Ward, Cedric Greene and Amos Machanic to NJPAC’s main building from 8:30am to 12:30pm for dance workshops at various levels. And on April 17, Lisa Johnson-Willingham leads a workshop from 6:30 to 8:30pm at Nimbus Dance, 165 Newark Ave., Jersey City. Register here.
Saturday, April 6 is also Ailey Revelations Celebration, a free afternoon of arts fun in Newark’s Military Park, facing NJPAC. Nasha Thomas of the Ailey company conducts a dance workshop for those who wish to learn to perform a sequence from Revelations; in addition, a choir sings spirituals and a fan collage workshop is just one of the many activities from 1 to 4pm. Click here for details.
Tickets to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, part of the M&T Bank Dance Series, range from $25-$89 through njpac.org, 1-888-GO-NJPAC (466-5722) or the box office at One Center Street.
April 2, 2019