One of the most beloved dance companies in the world today, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is spotlighting “LOVE” during its upcoming New York season, June 15-19 at Lincoln Center with works that reassure us that love, actually, is all around us.
The season kicks off Wednesday, June 15, with the Contemporary Creators program featuring the world premiere of AAADT Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts’ “In a Sentimental Mood.” Described as an intimate scene from the domestic life of a couple that becomes an exploration of love and desire, the work promises to reflect Roberts’ marvelous mix of lushly imaginative movement and mesmerizing musicality. It’s set to an original composition by Duke Ellington and four jazz standards given an avant-garde twist by composer Rafiq Bhatia. Sharing the program is Aszure Barton’s “Busk,” an episodic look at the nature of performance and the artists’ onstage vulnerabilities, and Ailey’s masterwork “Revelations,” which is an inspiring finale for each performance. The Contemporary Creators program repeats on June 18 which has been dubbed Ailey Pride Night, with a Dancers Responding to AIDS appeal to raise funds essential for those battling the illness.
The season also includes a Masterful Movement program on Friday, June 17, which highlights 20th century trailblazers with the company premiere of Paul Taylor’s “Duet,” Battle’s “Mass” and Ailey’s brilliant fusion of classical ballet, modern dance and jazz in “The River,” which he choreographed in 1970 for American Ballet Theatre. Friday also features a love-infused farewell celebration of long-limbed, dynamic AAADT dancer
Jacqueline Green who has dazzled audiences for over a decade. Audiences will be treated to Green’s artistry in “The River,” “Mass,” and “Revelations.” Other season highlights include an Ailey Spirit Gala, on Thursday, June 16,, showcasing the AAADT, rising stars of Ailey II, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School, and blossoming talents from AileyCamp, spotlighting and celebrating Battle’s 10th anniversary as artistic director.
Battle’s warm and charismatic leadership continues to nurture and sustain the Ailey legacy and its celebration culminates on Saturday, June 18, during the Family Matinee with such Battle beauties as “Ella,” “For Four,” “In/Side,” “Love Stories” finale, “Mass,” “Takademe,” a new production of his swirling duet “Unfold,” and a post-performance discussion with Battle. Just as this season highlights Battle’s choreographic brilliance it also spotlights his phenomenal leadership which is reflected both in the performances as well as in his continuation of another aspect of the Ailey legacy, the nurturing of dancers’ choreographic talent. Evidence of that is reflected in the resident choreographer slot currently filled by Jamar Roberts whose previous works on the company have included the critically acclaimed ”Members Don’t Get Weary” (2017), “Ode” (2019), “A Jam Session for Troubling Times” (2020), “Holding Space” (2021) and “Gemeos,” which was set on Ailey II.
Roberts has smoothly transitioned from a critically acclaimed career as an Ailey dancer performance to that of choreographer for the AAADT and others. While he has received commissions from companies as diverse as the New York City Ballet, BalletX, The Juilliard School and Fall for Dance, creating “In a Sentimental Mood” for the AAADT feels, Roberts says, like home. Of course, he’s thrilled at the opportunity to work with such a stellar roster of companies and, judging by the way the dancers from those companies sing his praises saying his choreography provides space for their skills and souls to shine, the feeling is mutual. Working with other companies can sometimes seem “like a blind date” where everyone has to get to know one another yet Roberts, ever the thoughtful gentle giant, maintains his focus as well as a strong sense of who he is and what he wants to say. His works for the AAADT, however, seem borne of a certain kind of intimacy—after all this is family. Now, with this new piece Roberts says he wants to “channel love.” Indeed the entire AAADT season seems designed to show that in these challenging times, love seems to be a revolutionary concept. “I was reading the late culture theorist bell hooks’ ‘All About Love,’ and there’s a quote where she says she feels that the United States are moving away from love and in some ways I think that making a dance about love comes from a very deep place,” Roberts says, capturing the essence of the upcoming Ailey season’s celebration.