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alvin ailey
alvin ailey

The Phenomenal Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Hitting London

London’s dance connoisseurs are set for an unparalleled experience. Between the 5th and 16th of September, the Sadler’s Wells stage will pulse with the transformative presence of America’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Fusing contemporary verve with timeless elegance, they present an outpouring of technical prowess and fiery passion. Their unique artistry, known for its magnetic energy, has left an indelible mark on stages worldwide. As one delves deeper into the tapestry of this company’s art, the heartbeat of its foundation becomes unmistakably clear: the vision and spirit of Alvin Ailey himself.

About Alvin Ailey

From the age of 12, after relocating with his mother to Los Angeles, the dance world beckoned to Alvin Ailey. Inspired by the performances of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, he embarked on a journey that would redefine modern dance. Ailey was no ordinary choreographer; he was a trailblazing force. In establishing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958, he didn’t merely seek to break the mould but to reshape the dance landscape altogether. 

Championing the depth and vibrancy of African American culture, his seminal work “Revelations” stands as a dance and an anthem for black America. Through Ailey’s audacious lens, the dance world glimpsed a diverse and profoundly authentic vision. Although Ailey departed from the world in 1989, his legacy continues to shape and challenge. Delving into his contributions unveils more than choreography; it reveals an era-defining movement.

Programmes

alvin ailey
Jacquelin Harris. Photo by Dario Calmese

The Best of Alvin Ailey

Date: September 7-15, 2023

The River: Capturing the essence of water, from tumbling rapids to calm streams, an allegory for life’s journey blends Ailey’s love for classical ballet with his hallmark modern and jazz dance styles. The music for this piece is a collaboration between Ailey and the legendary Duke Ellington.

Pas de Duke: This piece was created in 1976 as a playful and technical dance challenge between modern dance star Judith Jamison and ballet icon Mikhail Baryshnikov. The dance continues to evolve with each generation of performers, accompanied by Duke Ellington’s timeless jazz.

Cry: A profoundly emotional solo, Ailey dedicated this dance to black women globally, emphasising the resilience and triumphs of women who’ve faced immense hardship. The performance delineates sorrow, struggle, and joy, paying homage to Ailey’s mother and his muse, Judith Jamison.

Revelations: Recognised as a cultural gem, the masterpiece harnesses the depths of African American spirituals and gospel songs, echoing the profound grief and pure joy intrinsic to these traditions. With its evocative blues, gospel, and spiritual melodies, it has enchanted audiences across 71 countries, touching the hearts of over 25 million people. Esteemed admirers of this work include luminaries such as Oprah and Obama.

Tickets: Sadler’s Wells website.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: 21st Century Creations

Date:  September 8-14, 2023

For Four by Robert Battle. Four Ailey dancers move to Wynton Marsalis’ jazz score in 4/4 time, capturing the post-pandemic eagerness to perform and the magic of dancers uniting.

Unfold by Robert Battle. In this captivating duet, Battle pairs the emotion of Gustave Charpentier’s aria with fluid choreography. Unfold showcases the Artistic Director’s talent for evocative movement and imagery.

In a Sentimental Mood by Jamar Roberts: An intimate domestic scene of love and longing in Roberts’ world premiere. Set to an original composition by the legendary Duke Ellington and reimagined jazz standards by composer Rafiq Bhatia, this piece merges the timeless and the contemporary, breathing new life into classic tunes.

Are You In Your Feelings by Kyle Abraham: Abraham, an acclaimed choreographer, masterfully combines soul, hip-hop, and R&B to tell the story of Black culture and music. The piece serves as a testament to the undying youthful spirit in everyone, seamlessly linking music, memory, and heartfelt communication.

Tickets: Sadler’s Wells website.
alvin ailey
Yannick Lebrun. Photo by Dario Calmese

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Modern Masters

Date: September 6-16, 2023

Roy’s Joys by Twyla Tharp: “Roy’s Joys” channels the dynamic pulse of the 1940s and 50s, dancing to Roy Eldridge’s jazz rhythms. Tharp seamlessly weaves vernacular moves with ballet and modern techniques, capturing her hallmark vibrant choreography.

Dancing Spirit by Ronald K. Brown: Paying tribute to the iconic Judith Jamison, Ailey’s Artistic Director Emerita, this piece mirrors her autobiography’s title. With movements inspired by Cuba, Brazil, and the U.S., and set to the melodies of Ellington, Marsalis, and War, Brown’s choreography captures Jamison’s elegance and vision, embodying her indomitable spirit.

Revelations by Alvin Ailey: A testament to the human spirit, “Revelations” delves into the depths of pain and the pinnacles of joy. Drawing inspiration from his “blood memories,” Ailey’s iconic creation, set to African American spirituals and blues, has become a cultural touchstone, resonating with audiences worldwide. 

Tickets:  Sadler’s Wells website.

Show: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Contemporary Voices

Date: September 5-16, 2023

For Four by Robert Battle: Four Ailey dancers move to Wynton Marsalis’ jazz score in 4/4 time, capturing the post-pandemic eagerness to perform and the magic of dancers uniting.

Unfold by Robert Battle: In this captivating duet, Battle pairs the emotion of Gustave Charpentier’s aria with fluid choreography. Unfold showcases the Artistic Director’s talent for evocative movement and imagery.

Are You in Your Feelings? by Kyle Abraham: Choreographer Kyle Abraham presents a dynamic ode to Black culture and music. Merging soul, hip-hop, and R&B in a “mixtape” style, this piece celebrates the enduring youthful spirit in all of us, connecting music, emotion, and cherished memories.

Revelations by Alvin Ailey: A testament to the human spirit, “Revelations” delves into the depths of pain and the pinnacles of joy. Drawing inspiration from his “blood memories,” Ailey’s iconic creation, set to African-American spirituals and blues, has become a cultural touchstone, resonating with audiences worldwide.

Tickets: Sadler’s Wells website.
alvin ailey
Michael Jackson, Jr. Photo by Dario Calmese

Each show lasts roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes, punctuated by two 20-minute intervals. With tickets starting at just £15.00, ensure you don’t miss this dance phenomenon. London, the Alvin Ailey season has arrived, promising to be unforgettable. For more information, visit Sadler’s Wells. Location: Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN.

About Sadler’s Well

Sadler’s Wells is a true haven for the arts, boasting a rich history of over three centuries. Their unwavering commitment to dance shines through in their extensive year-round program that celebrates the art form in all its magnificent forms. With over half a million visitors gracing their London theaters annually, and even more reaching out to their globally touring productions and digital platforms, Sadler’s Wells is a hub for dance enthusiasts everywhere.

Leading the dance world, Sadler’s Wells creates and shares more new works than any other dance organisation. They are dedicated to supporting artists and providing them with the resources they need to bring their vision to life. With opportunities to explore innovative ideas and collaborate with other artists, Sadler’s Wells helps talented individuals create world-class work.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Sadler’s Wells invites individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to take part in their events and workshops. Whether you’re an experienced dancer or just looking to try something new, Sadler’s Wells is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the world of dance. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the Sadler’s Wells community!

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