By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

        Los Angeles, CA.- The Music Center welcomes America’s beloved cultural ambassador to the world, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, back to Los Angeles for five days of dance and learning that celebrate the decade-long leadership of its visionary Artistic Director Robert Battle as part of the 19th season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center. Ailey’s renowned artists will perform a diverse dance repertory of premieres, new productions and Ailey classic after a two-year from The Music Center, it’s Southern California home. Highlights include a Battle 10th Anniversary program; an All Ailey program featuring Blues Suite, Alvin Ailey’s original masterpiece based upon his “blood memories” growing up in rural Texas, Cry, his beloved classic dedicated to “all Black women everywhere-especially our mothers” and a new production of Battle’s Reflections in D from Ailey’s legendary collaboration with Duke Ellington; and a return of hip-hop innovator Rennie Harris’s acclaimed Lazarus. Each performance will culminate in Alvin Ailey’s American masterpiece Revelations, which has inspired generations through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring spirituals since its creation in 1960. The company will also work with students and senior citizens to explore the choreography and history of Revelations through in-person residencies. 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Courtesy Photo)

        “Since Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s first appearance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center in 2004, the company’s performance in Los Angeles have been the most anticipated of every dance series,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “This year feels especially meaningful since it’s company’s first post-pandemic appearance at The Music Center, and it marks a decade of Artistic Director Robert Battle’s leadership. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is truly a national treasure, and it is an honor to celebrate this milestone with performances that will uplift and connect audiences at a time we need it most.”

        “Alvin Ailey’s vision opened the door for generations of artists to use dance to inspire, unite and enlighten,” stated Artistic Director Robert Battle. “Despite the twists and turns on the road we have all travelled together, we can continue to find new ways to share artistry that renews our spirit of courage, hope and joy. I am thrilled we are returning to The Music Center and deeply humbled to have led this seminal Company for a decade, joined by incomparable dancers and choreographers on a journey of discovery that extends from the powerful works of our founder to the important voices of today–an ongoing dance dialogue that shines a light on the strength and resilience of our common humanity around the world.”

        The Battle 10th Anniversary program marks a decade of Artistic Director Robert Battle’s visionary leadership that has moved the Company forward in exciting ways into a seventh decade. The evening-length program featured Los Angeles-based choreographer Aszure Barton’s BUSK, which invites audiences to enjoy the fragility, tenderness and resilience that exist within the human experience. Set to a spirited score, BUSK has been described as watching the physical unfurling of the human psyche. Under Barton’s direction, every facet of the dancers’ bodies and minds are engaged, and the complex layering of movement reveals the inherent wisdom of the body. The dancers must tap into the collective-a hive mind-to execute Barton’s layered and intricate choreographic structures, which then give way to the nuance of each individual. The evening also includes Ella and the finale of Love Stories. Ella is a high-energy comical dance that uses a live concert recording of Ella Fitzgerald, performing the song “Airman Special,” and matches the iconic singer’s virtuosic scatting with lightning-fast, articulated movement in an irresistible tour-de-force that leaves audiences (and the dancers) breathless. Love Stories was a collaboration among Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, choreographer Renne Harris and Artistic Director Robert Battle. Inspired by the African concept of “Sankofa,” which teaches that “we don’t know where we’re going unless we know where we have been,” this extraordinary ballet celebrates the traditions of African American dance and the rich heritage of Alvin Ailey.

        Hip-hop innovator Rennie Harris’s acclaimed Lazarus, a powerful ensemble work inspired by the life and legacy of Alvin Ailey, also returns. The acclaimed creation of Ailey’s first two-act ballet is featured in the must-see AILEY documentary, which had an advance screening by The Music Center on Jerry Moos Plaza in August 2021, opened the 36th season of PBS American Masters January 11, 2022 and is now streaming on Hulu. Noted by The New Yorker as “…an exhilarating celebration of life, dance and the body in motion,” Lazarus received its West coast premiere with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center in 2019.

        Cry, Alvin Ailey’s beloved classic, is a 16-minute tour-de-force created on his stunning muse, Ailey Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison. Comprised of three parts, Cry features choreography set to Alice Coltrane’s “Something about John Coltrane,” Laura Nyro’s “Been on a Train” and the Voices of East Harlem singing “Right on, Be Free.” It was an instant sensation when it debuted on May 4, 1971, at New York City Center and went on to become an enduring work of American art.

        In addition, The Music Center and Alvin Ailey Arts in Education and Community Programs will work with four LAUSD middle schools in the weeks leading up to the Company’s performances to delve into and learn the choreography of Revelations. The students will have the opportunity to experience Revelations live during a special performance for students at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Ailey teaching artists will also provide dance learning sessions for older adults at an in-person session with the Pasadena Senior Center.

        Tickets for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance at The Music Center start at $34 and are available online at https://musiccenter.org/ailey; at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office, 134 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012; or by calling (213) 972-0711. For groups of 10 or more, call (213) 972-8555 or email mcgroupsales@musiccenter.org