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Summer In The City - Ailey Day - August 9, 2008 - A City On Dance

Summer In The City - Ailey Day - August 9, 2008 - A City On Dance
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on September 17, 2008
Briana Blasko


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Celebrates its 50th Anniversary with New York – at A City Center Street Party.

Photos © Briana Blasko
Story© Christine Jowers
Videography Adam Sypnier for The Dance Enthusiast


AAADT in the opening of "REVELATIONS"


NYC takes Horton Class with Nasha Thomas-Schmitt
and Fellow Teachers from Ailey.


"He was interested in people," remembers AAADT rehearsal director, Ronnie Favors. He told dancers to, "get out of the studio and dance about life."
Beyond the masterworks of choreography, brilliant dancing, soulful music and striking production values that take ones breath away when experiencing The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, there is the basic concept that dance is not some ivory tower experience for an effete few but rather an activity as necessary as breathing for the community at large.

Dance of the people, by the people and for the people – a truly American concept- is the truth that the AAADT lives and it is their gift to the world.

August 9th, 2008, Ailey Day at City Center celebrated this fact. The gloriously danced free performances began with standing ovations from the excited audience. The rare privilege of listening to Judith Jamison speak as well as alums of the company: Ronnie Favors, Carmen de Lavallade, George Faison, Donna Wood Sanders, Ralph Glenmore, Aubrey Lynch, Renne Robinson, and Jackie Wolcott was an amazing treat. The games, balloons, food, and rides on the street outside City Center were reminiscent of most block parties that happen in NYC in the summer, but also on the streets, something one doesn’t usually see -dance classes! There were jam packed classes with masses of eager New Yorkers of all colors, shapes, ages, and levels of dance ability intently practicing the very body isolations and never ending perpendicular to the floor side bends that Alvin Ailey worked to master when he was a young student of Lester Horton in California.

Throughout the day many stories were shared. Aubrey Lynch encountered Ailey’s movement during a master class at Wayne State College and was prompted to drop his chemistry degree to become a dancer. Similarly Renee Robinson, a dance and economics major at NYU, wanted to be an attorney but ended up dancing for twenty-seven years. Ronnie Favors, currently the company’s rehearsal director, met Mr. Ailey at a deli when she was a student. She was too shy to talk, but he wanted to strike up a conversation. “He was interested in people,” she remembered. He told dancers to, “get out of the studio and dance about life.” Donna Wood felt lost when she had to perform the signature solo “Cry” at the Acropolis in Athens- but Ailey urged her to stretch her imagination “You are a goddess, you are beyond the stage lights, feel beyond.” Carmen de Lavallade, who knew Ailey the longest--she took him to his first dance class with Lester Horton in East LA --mused, “I don’t think he realized his power. We came up with just do your work... We were just having fun...
He would be amazed.”

When you say Coke-a –Cola all around the world people know what you are talking about, and when you say Alvin Ailey it’s the same thing she pointed out.

“That cute guy from Rogers, Texas is going to live on. He was a blessing.”

For any dance enthusiast it was an awe-inspiring day.



For more information on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, please visit:

Alvin Ailey 50th Anniversary Website (Including Anniversary Short Film)

Alvin Ailey General Website

The Joan Weill Center for Dance

* December 3, 2008- January 4, 2009 – New York City Center Season, featuring two new works, live music by Sweet Honey in the Rock and Wynton Marsalis& Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Target 1958 Night

* Coming in November 2008- An Alvin Ailey Barbie Doll designed by AAADT Artistic Director Judith Jamison, as well as a book of photography entitled Ailey Ascending: A Portrait in Motion



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