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Ailey II recruits ATL Choreographer Juel D. Lane for 2017-18 Season

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

When Ailey II goes on tour this fall, audiences may notice a lil southern twang to their intricate dance moves. That’s because the company is using Atlanta choreographer—Juel D. Lane.

Lane, an alumnus of Tri-Cities High School and Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA), was selected to participate in the 2015-16 Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation New Directions Choreography Lab that was curated by the company’s Artistic Director, Robert Battle.

The program enables chosen dancers and choreographers to explore new ideas, take creative risks and find their voices by removing constraints of time and space, immediate financial burdens and deadline pressures. For Lane, this was an absolute dream come true.

“Ailey II Artistic Director, Troy Powell, invited me to create a new work for the company and I happily accepted. I’m truly excited to share my voice to an establishment that I’ve always admired and showed that brown bodies are transcendent geniuses on and off the stage,” said Lane in a statement. He currently dances with Bessie award winning Camille A. Brown & Dancers and is a graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts. 

Ailey II has become universally renowned as one of the world’s finest dance companies and continues the legacy of its founder, Alvin Ailey.

RC can’t wait to see what Lane has put together for this season. If it’s anything like his past work, we are in for a treat!  Click here for tickets to their Atlanta engagement on 10/21 at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State at 8 p.m.

Photo Credits: Shocphoto x Kendrick Daye + Alvin Ailey

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Johnny Gill, Grant Hill, Tamia and more attend the Mayor’s Masked Ball [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

I had the pleasure of covering the the 32nd Annual UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball Saturday evening in Atlanta and oh what a night! This was my second year attending the UNCF fundraising event and it was just as glamorous and star-studded as last year’s ball. It was also one of the most sought after tickets in the city and I was simply thrilled to be in the number.

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Mayor Kasim Reed and First Lady with Chris Tucker and guest

The Mayor’s Masked Ball was started by Atlanta icons Billye S. Aaron (Hank Aaron’s wife) and Ambassador Andrew Young in 1983 and is presented by the city’s current mayor each year. The highly anticipated black-tie affair is supported annually by local corporate companies and civic entities while raising unrestricted dollars for local UNCF students. It also attracts local and national celebrities, dignitaries, and many of the city’s elected officials.

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Honoree Dr. Carlton Brown and wife with UNCF CEO and Co-Chairs

This year’s gala was held at the luxurious Marriott Marquis and was co-chaired by corporate rockstars Shan Cooper, Lockhead Martin Aeronautics Company Vice President and Marietta General Manager as well as Jack Sawyer, President Southeast Region Wealth Advisory Group, Wilmington Trust. UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax and UNCF Regional Development Director Justine Boyd also honored former HBCU Presidents—Dr. Carlton E. Brown (Clark Atlanta University) and Dr. Beverly Tatum (Spelman College) with this year’s Masked Awards for their years of service to the Atlanta University Center.

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Race star Stephan James with Kim Fields and husband Christopher Morgan

The year’s Ball featured a Silent Auction, VIP Reception, Red Carpet, and the show stopping Parade of Masks. Celebrities in attendance included Real Housewives of Atlanta stars Kim Fields and Demetria McKinney, Race actor Stephan James, R&B singers Kelly Price and Tamia, American Crime Story actress Cocoa Brown, comedians George Wallace, Myra J and Don “DC” Curry, filmmaker Roger M. Bobb, and reality stars Dwight Eubanks and Maja Sly. Other celebs in attendance were former NBA players Grant Hill and Dikembe Mutombo, TV and film actress Jasmine Burke, NAACP Image Award nominee and HGTV host Egypt Sherrod, and Married to Medicine duo Dr. Heavenly Kimes and Dr. Damon.

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Johnny Gill performing some of his new music

This year’s Ball also featured national recording superstar Johnny Gill. The Grammy-nominated R&B crooner and New Edition member delivered a high-energy performance of his greatest hits including “Fairweather Friend,” “There You Go” from the Boomerang soundtrack, “Where Do We Go From Hear,” LSG’s “My Body,”and his classic slow jam,” My, My, My.”  Gill also performed songs from his new album Game Changer, which he released this year under his label—J Skillz Records.

Check out more images below from the Mayor’s Masked Ball:

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UNCF Staff and Co-Chairs with Edwin Moses and Dikembe Mutombo

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Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall and wife (right) with friends

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Demetria McKinney with Roger M. Bobb

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UNCF CEO and Co-Chairs with Egypt Sherrod and husband DJ Fadelf

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SHEEN’s Kimberly Chapman and Sammie Haynes with Kim Fields

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Mayor’s Masked Ball announcers Karyn Greer and Brenda Wood

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Honoree Dr. Beverly Tatum with UNCF and Ambassador Andrew Young 

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Kelly Price and guest

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The very dapper Dwight Eubanks 

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Miss National UNCF with UNCF CEO and Co-Chairs

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History meeting History—Hank Aaron and Stephan James

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Former EBONY Fashion Fair Model Renee Knorr

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George Wallace with “Ms. Nevada” Sylvia Taylor

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Stephan JamesRoger M. Bobb and ATL City Council Pres. Ceasar Mitchell

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Tamia and Grant Hill

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Dr. Damon, Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Saptosa Foster and Jasmine Burke

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Kim Fields meeting Race star Stephan James 

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George Wallace and his “wife” Myra J 

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Jasmine Burke and Stephan James 

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UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax and daughter Deignan Lomax

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Edwin Moses and Stephan James 
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Cutting It in the ATL’s Maja Sly and friends

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American Crime Story’s Cocoa Brown with Don “DC” Curry

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Egypt Sherrod rocking her red dress…My…My…My…

Ladies and Gentleman…JOHNNY GILL!

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DSC_0397-2Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com
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Ray Cornelius hosts Ailey Cirlce Atlanta Dessert & Wine Reception [PHOTOS & VIDEO]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of hosting my first Ailey Circle Atlanta event on Monday night with my friend and Ailey Circle member, Thomas Harrison. As you know, Ailey Circle Atlanta is an elite group of business professionals and arts patrons who help drive awareness and create excitement for Ailey’s upcoming Atlanta engagement performance at the Fox Theatre.

Ray Cornelius

 Ray Cornelius bringing greetings

The event took place at the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Decatur and was attended by a number of the city’s tastemakers and influencers. Harrison, who is Director of Sales for the Hotel, co-hosted the event with me and provided attendees with complimentary hors-d’oeuvres and wine along with a decadent dessert bar.

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Thomas Harrison with client

Attendees also enjoyed three video presentations from Ailey’s upcoming Atlanta performance as well as an exclusive interview I conducted with former Ailey dance student turned actress Lisa Arrindell Anderson. In the video, Anderson talks about her awesome experience as a child attending the Ailey Dance School and how it helped her transition into theater. The evening also featured a number of giveaways including hotel stays in Florida, dinner and tickets to Ailey’s Fan Appreciation Night and the coveted Ailey swag bag.

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Prize winner A. Raquel

Ailey’s 2015 season is celebrating the music of civil rights pioneer Odetta, with a world premiere dance performance simply titled, “Odetta.” The theatrical number was choreographed by Ailey’s Matthew Rushing and features signature dancer, Hope Bryant in the title role. The tour also includes the Ailey/Duke Ellington classic, “Night Creatures,” Robert Battle’s infectious “Takademe” and the Ailey masterpiece, “Revelations.”

Check out a few photos from the event below and as well as my video with Lisa Arrindell Anderson:

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 The evening featured light hors-d’oeuvres and a dessert bar

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iWonder Media Group’s Margaret Kargbo with The Cvion Company’s Calvin Watts 

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Arts patrons

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Edelman’s Ciara Moraski and Loren Clifford 

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Delightful Desserts…

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Decatur business professionals

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Harrison and his staff talking to attendee

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Lester Love with Ailey Ambassadors Keith Knows and Tonya Cook

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Harrison and prize winner

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“Ailey Fan Appreciation Night” ticket winner, Dawn Cribb aka Mahogany Dawn 

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will appear at the Fox Theatre Feb. 11-15

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com