Robert Battle Reveals His Vision for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Robert Battle Reveals His Vision for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Christine Jowers/Follow @christinejowers on Twitter

By Christine Jowers/Follow @christinejowers on Twitter
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Published on May 13, 2011

Poised to move from Artistic Director Designate to Artistic Director of AAADT, Robert Battle Shares his Battle Plan

Reaching Back into Ailey Tradition and Stretching Out in New Directions


The 2011-2012 Season Under the Direction of Mr. Robert Battle Will Include World and Company Premieres by Paul Taylor, Rennie Harris, Ohad Naharin, and Robert Battle Plus New Productions of Historic Repertory PLUS the Inauguration of a New Major Program at the Ailey Organization-- The New Directions Choreography Lab.


©Christine Jowers 2011 for the Dance Enthusiast

Yesterday, The Dance Enthusiast was invited to hear Mr. Battle's battle plan, revealing his vision for AAADT for the first time. There are many wonderful ideas for the future including innovative choreographic relationships and initiatives. With all the wonder and hope for the future, Mr. Battle, as well as the rest of his team, display a healthy respect for the roots of the community of artists at Ailey and beyond.
I would like to share with you some of the joy of the day--Christine


Excerpts from Speeches of the Day
Judith Jamison:                    


"I believe in the individual, in their uniqueness, and in their expression... that's what I have been doing the last 21 years. That is what I have been doing the last 50 years, either through this body, or as a director. I believe in that extension of honoring the spirit that is within." 
              Judith Jamison

"Every time you say AILEY its kinda like, what does that mean? Sometimes I read that and I go, O.K. what does that mean—THE AILEY?  Hmmm… I think it means this great gorgeous family that we have now standing in the Joan Weill Center for Dance. That’s what it means. We’re all in the same boat. We’re all going in the same direction. And so for me to be able to recognize a young talent, and I emphasize young 'cause I want to see the company go on for another 50 years--a young talent who sometimes reminds me of Mr. Ailey--with his savvy of knowing what it is to be a dancer, to love dancers and to love people and to understand the integrity of what this organization and what The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre has been about for the last 50 years. …I expect him to be that free spirit that I see everyday (‘cause he has been on tour with me all this time) I expect him to continue be that free spirit, and you will not see me hanging around in the background. Believe me, that is NOT why I asked this man to do this. I believe in the individual, in their uniqueness, and in their expression that ‘s what I have been doing the last 21 years. That is what I have been doing the last 50 years, either through this body, or as a director. I believe in that extension of honoring the spirit that is within.

 

This Video Features Photography by Andrew Eccles, Paul Kolnik, and Christopher Duggan.

The Dancers in the Video are (from left to right) Renaldo Gardner, Kirven J. Boyd & Kanji Segawa
 

Robert Battle:

"Most of all I’d like to thank you Ms. Judith Jamison. Thank you for choosing me.
"Most of all I’d like to thank you Ms. Judith Jamison. Thank you for choosing me."
  Robert Battle
I think that many of us who have had the opportunity over 20 something years to stand on that stage and tell our stories owe you a great debt of gratitude so I thank you on behalf of all of us."
 
"I was thinking, I was thinking today about when I first came to New York City and when I got here. I think about how I felt this whole year… and (remember) my mother said to me, 'Now when you go Robert, do not stand around looking up at the big buildings ‘cause if you do that, they’ll know you’re not from there and they’ll rob you!' (Robert walks away from the podium to demonstrate how he walked around only allowing his eye -balls to roll up, never daring to crane his neck upwards. The audience laughs, for it seems so unnatural for this fellow to not follow his curiosity. It’s as if he might burst.)
You know right now I ‘m feeling pretty good. And I tried not to be looking up at the buildings and being like this ( he acts super excited while not looking up) But
"What is important to me that it is about process and not product. In a country where product is sometimes king, I think it is important that we remain innocent and daring."

--Robert Battle on the principles behind his New Directions Choreography Lab.
that is how I feel right now, that I am looking up at the buildings, and now, being in this building, some young person might be looking up at this building and seeing ME. How cool is that?"
 
"One of the things that during this process I was thinking a lot about was sneaking into spaces (earlier in the afternoon Robert recounted how as a young choreographer he had to sneak in to Juilliard to rehearse) and how these choreographers have little of what they need --and that is time and space.We have a unique art form in the fact that it’s not solitary. You know, we cant just go like my fun composer friends when we germinate an idea and then they go away and they get in front of their key board and doodle away… You have to hire a few dancers, find a big enough space and create. So I am thinking about how do we help solve that problem? To that end we are starting this year, this season, a New Directions Choreography Lab that will aid and assist choreographers in their endeavors… What is important to me that it is about process and not product. In a country where product is sometimes king, I think it is important that we remain innocent and daring. So it is not about having a piece at the end, if you do, it’d be nice, let me a look at it, maybe I could use it, but that’s ok if not.
My hope is that this will affect the entire community, and that’s really important, that’s what it is all about; giving opportunity to people who might not other wise have it."




 

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