Posted by | Ray Cornelius
Last night, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre‘s 60th Anniversary holiday season at New York City Center kicked off with a star-studded Opening Night Gala Benefit performance and party led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, with iconic film stars Angela Bassett and Cicely Tyson as honorary chairs.
Robert Battle with Cicely Tyson
Prudential Financial received the Ailey Legacy Honor for their generous support and commitment to Ailey, especially its education and community programs. The award was presented by Battle and Christopher Taylor, an alumnus of the inaugural Ailey Camp Newark (2011) and a current scholarship student at The Ailey School, and accepted by Lata Reddy, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Impact at Prudential Financial.
Hope Boykin + Angela Bassett
The one-night-only program featured tributes to the Company’s legendary founder with a specially staged excerpt of Memoria, a work he choreographed as an elegy for a dear friend; a piece d’occasion entitled For Alvin by Robert Battle, set to Nina Simone’s Black is the Color; and culminated with Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece, Revelations, performed with live musicians and special guest singers Ledisi (12-time Grammy-nominated R&B artist), Kenny Lattimore (Grammy-nominated R&B singer), Erica Campbell (Grammy-winning gospel singer), and Brandie Sutton (critically-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera soprano). Becoming Ailey, a multimedia piece that celebrates Ailey and brings his voice and presence back to the stage (created in collaboration with Bob Bonniol and Caryl Glabb of MODE Studios, Inc.), also premiered.
Robert Battle + Kenny Lattimore + Judith Jamison + Jussie Smollett
“Alvin Ailey said ‘I’m trying to hold up a mirror to society so that people can see how beautiful they are.’ In 1958, before the Civil Rights Movement, he “Made a Way Out of No Way” on a trailblazing journey to becoming one of the groundbreaking greats in African American history,” stated Robert Battle. “His celebration of the human spirit has lifted us up and brought us together, and his spirit still runs through the veins of this organization.”
Lucinda Martinez, Honorary Chairs Angela Bassett, Cicely Tyson , Artistic Director Robert Battle, Sidra Smith, B.Michael and guests
Special guests from the worlds of business, politics, entertainment, and philanthropy included Carmen de Lavallade, Susan Fales-Hill, Jane Krakowski, Naturi Naughton, Soledad O’Brien, Amanda Seales, Bevy Smith, Jussie Smollett, Susan L. Taylor, Ben Vereen, Elaine Wynn, B. Michael, George Faison and many more. After the performance, the celebration continued at the New York Midtown Hilton’s Grand Ballroom where approximately 900 guests joined Battle, Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, and the stars ofAlvin Ailey American Dance Theater for dinner and dancing with live music by the premier band Élan Artists.
Ailey Dancers performing “Revelations”
In addition, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the City of New York, and New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal joined in celebration by sending written proclamations recognizing Ailey’s many achievements over the last 60 years.
Throughout December, Ailey’s 32 remarkable dancers will unveil four premieres, two new productions, and a variety of returning favorites, classics, and special programs. The Company will continue to inspire audiences across North America with a 21-city tour beginning in January 2019. For more information, visit alvinailey.org.
See more pics below:
Carmen de Lavallade + George Faison + Sidra Smith +
Ailey II Artistic Director Emerita Sylvia Waters
Ailey Board Member Lucinda Martinez +
Amanda Seales + Bevy Smith + Beverly Bond
Jussie Smollett + Angela Bassett
Gala Co-Chair and Ailey Board President Debra Lee + Artistic Director Robert Battle
Amanda Seales + Sidra Smith + Jacque Reid
Erica Campbell + Kenny Lattimore + Ledisi + Brandie Inez
The Legendary Cicely Tyson
Photo Credits: Christopher Duggan and Donna Ward