'Dance: Legends and legacies' Robert Battle's inaugural season as Ailey's artistic director

CHARMAINE PATRICIA WARREN Special to the AmNews | 11/16/2011, 6:38 p.m.
Our dance community and dance history are incredibly rich; those who have achieved the highest...
'Dance: Legends and legacies' Robert Battle's inaugural season as Ailey's artistic director

Battle: Mr. Ailey envisioned a place for choreographers to speak their minds. This has always been in my DNA. Today, I can look into the faces of the nine new dancers who have worked so hard for this dream job and I can pay it forward; I can help to expand on what is already there.

Inman: I have a good foundation that I will build on without losing sight of where I came from.

Powell: My job is to keep this tradition strong.

Hopkins: I am still figuring out what I can give, but I'm looking forward to my second season.

This season, which promises to "reach back into Ailey traditions and stretch out in new directions," marks Battle's inaugural season as artistic director. Battle is bringing back Ailey's first full-length work without a plot, "Streams" (1970), to show "how versatile a choreographer [Ailey] was." He is also presenting Joyce Trisler's meditative female solo, "Journey" (1958), to honor Trisler, a dear friend and colleague of Ailey's.

Battle is also introducing AAADT to his mentor and an American master choreographer, Paul Taylor, through Taylor's "Arden Court" (1981). He explained he is doing so because he "wants the dancers to have new challenges."

Battle is equally proud of the new direction for the company, which includes the premiere of hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris' "Home" and American-Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin's "Minus 16" (1999). He doesn't mind being in the same league as Harris and Naharin, who are sometimes called bad boys, because they are "passionate people...who love [their] work. [After all], the cornerstone of AAADT is passion and humanity."

Also on this season's calendar is Battle's "Takademe" (1999), made in his tiny apartment, which will now be performed to live music. His excitement is palpable. "Oh yeah," he offered, "I've always wanted to see that happen...now it can."

Other season highlights include: Jamison's "Forgotten Time"; "Love Stories," by Jamison with Battle and Harris; Ailey's "Cry"; the unforgettable "Revelations"; and more. The opening night gala boasts honorary chairs first lady Michelle Obama; the model Iman; singer John Legend with Alicia Graf Mack in "If It's Magic," by Jamison; Taylor's "Arden Court"; Lar Lubovitch's "Prelude to a Kiss"; and "Revelations" with 50 dancers.

AAADT runs Nov. 30-Jan. 1, 2012, at New York City Center. For more information, call (212) 581-1212 or visit www.alvinailey.org.