Donald McKayle’s 1959 masterwork, Rainbow Round My Shoulder, is acclaimed as a modern dance classic. A searing dramatic narrative, it is set on a chain gang in the American south where prisoners work, breaking rock from “can see to can’t see.” Their aspirations for freedom come in the guise of a woman, first as a vision then as a remembered sweetheart, mother, and wife. The songs that accompany their arduous labor are rich in polyphony and tell a bitter, sardonic, and tragic story. It was created for the Donald McKayle Dance Company, and has been in the repertoire of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Batsheva Dance Company and Dayton Contemporary Dance, among others. The cast in the video excerpt includes Donald McKayle and Mary Hinkson. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Alvin Ailey
2/7/23 O&A NYC MORE HARKNESS STORIES: Keith Lee- First Black Soloist at ABT (American Ballet Theater)
Keith Lee describes his early Harkness experiences as a story book tale. While a student at the High School for the Performing Arts (aka Fame High) this dance phenom received a full scholarship to the Harkness House for Ballet Arts. This experience had a lasting impact and helped shape his own unique artistry as a dance, director, teacher and choreographer. In 1970 Lee made history when he became the first American of African descent to earn soloist status at American Ballet Theater.
12/24/22 O&A NYC FROM THE VAULT: A Conversation with Clive Thompson- The Ailey Years
By Walter Rutledge
Clive Thompson danced in the Golden Era of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Officially becoming a permanent member in 1970 when choreographer Ailey was entering a creative zenith. He viral good looks, skillful partnering, and his ability to capture audiences in both dramatic and abstract roles made him Ailey royalty. Continue reading
11/25/22 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Alvin Ailey’s Revelations (1960),
Alvin Ailey’s masterwork Revelations (1960), one of the most recognizable modern dance works, remains a powerful testament to the human spirit. This cast includes Marilyn Banks, April Berry, Kevin Brown, Gary DeLoatch, Ralph Glenmore, Deborah Manning, Renee Robinson and Dudley Williams.
12/24/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Ailey’s 2021 Opening Night Gala
As special holiday gift from the Ailey company to you, watch the Opening Night Gala now through Dec 28. The performance honors you, our audience, our inspiration. Happy Holidays! Featuring: Robert Battle’s ‘Ella’(performed to live music by Jazzmeia Horne) and the finale of Love Stories,’ plus Bird’ Lives!, an excerpt from Alvin Ailey’s For Bird’ – With Love featuring Company member Clifton Brown with students from The Ailey School, and Mr. Ailey’s beloved Revelations. Continue reading
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.
6/18/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Ailey Juneteenth Celebration
Ailey Celebrates Juneteenth is an uplifting program that features performance highlights from Alvin Ailey’s Cry and Revelations, as well as Rennie Harris’ Lazarus. Continue reading
4/16/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Night Creature- An Ailey/Ellington Masterwork
Ailey All Access presents the online encore of Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature. This classic work is a perfect fusion of Ailey’s buoyant choreography and Duke Ellington’s sparkling music. Continue reading
1/15/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater- Chroma, Grace, Takademe, Revelations (2015)
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Revelations, Chroma, Grace, and Takademe in this 2015 rebroadcast. Continue reading
12/21/20 O&A NYC DANCE: Testament- (World Premiere) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
‘Testament’ (World Premiere) by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown, and Yusha-Marie Sorzano, plus a conversation among the choreographers about the work’s creation. Continue reading