12/21/21 O&A NYC MILESTONES: Happy Birthday George Faison

By Walter Rutledge

There is only one George Faison! Dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, playwright, social activist, entrepreneur and friend. George has been one of my inspirations and artistic standard bearers for most of my career. In 2017 the Ailey American Dance Theater presented an excerpt of Suite Otis, his iconic tribute to Otis Redding. Faison sat down to talk about this masterwork,  experiences in the Ailey Company and his arts aesthetic. Happy Birthday George.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present an excerpt of George Faison’s masterwork Suite Otis at their New York City Center season opening night gala, Wednesday, November 29 2017. Choreographed in 1971 for the George Faison Universal Dance Experience the work joined the Ailey repertoire in 1977. 40 years after it’s Ailey debut Suite Otis continues to excite and entertain audiences with verve, aplomb, fleet footed technique and imaginative Euclidean storytelling.

The company will perform the finale section set to Otis Redding’s Tenderness. The full cast section reintroduces the dancers creating a visually exciting yet compelling epilog. Throughout the work Faison (the imperial storyteller) does what every choreographer should do- invites us into his vision and delivers with clarity, focus and impeccable choreographic timing.

Balletomanes still long for the return of old fashion honest storytelling- the hallmark of Ailey’s original company. In Suite Otis Faison’s articulate use of the dance narrative genre captures the majesty and universal humanity of both Otis Redding’s music and the black dance experience. This gave him a voice in an era when Black American dance and culture had started to becoming a global  force.

Suite Otis- George Faison

What Faison did (and continues to do) is to keep the dance/theatre aesthetic in the forefront of the arts conversation. Tenderness will be performed for one performance only on Wednesday, November 29 for tickets and a complete schedule of the five-week New York City season visit ailey.org.

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