Carmen de Lavallade dancing to Quincy Jones’s “Soul Bossa Nova” with Wesley Fata on November 16, 1968. Ms. de Lavallade’s late husband, the great Geoffrey Holder, choreographed this piece This is jut an excerpt of a much longer dance. Continue reading
From the Ailey Press Office
The Board of Trustees of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation today announced that Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Ailey since 2011, has informed them that he needs to focus on his health and has submitted his resignation. The Board has accepted Mr. Battle’s resignation with regret. Mr. Battle will remain available to the Board through December 31, 2023. Continue reading
This House of Flowers excerpt featuring Geoffrey Holder and Carmen De Lavallade is from the 2005 documentary Carmen & Geoffrey. Holder and his brother Boscoe talk about their early roots in Trinidad, forming a dance company and Holder meeting his wife (De Lavallade) in the 1955 production of House of Flowers. Continue reading
In 1972, Alvin Ailey created the elegiac solo Love Songs for dancer Dudley Williams. The sixteen minute solo, composed in three sections includes A Song for You by Donny Hathaway; Poppies by Nina Simone; and He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother by Donny Hathaway. Many thought of the work as the male equivalent of the female solo Cry (1971). Continue reading
Larry Rhodes discusses the events leading to the formation of the Harkness Ballet in an excerpt from the upcoming documentary An American Ballet Story. The story about the all too short life of the Harkness Ballet, will have its New York live screening premiere on April 20th at the New York Public Library Performing Arts – Bruno Walter Auditorium. O&A NYC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Walter Rutledge will moderate the post screening Q and A. Continue reading
In the dance film autobiography Ballet For Life: Harkness Ballet former dance and acclaimed teacher Finis Jhung reminisces about his years with the Harkness Ballet where he reached the pinnacle in his career and discovered Buddhism, which dramatically changed the course of his life. Continue reading
They Called Her Moses is Donald McKayle‘s story of freedom fighter Harriet Tubman. The cast includes Jacqueline Walcott, Robert Powell, Sylvia Waters, Arthur Mitchell, Kathleen Stanford, Donald McKayle and Carmen DeLavallade. Continue reading
One of Bearden’s early dance collaborations was the modern dance work Ancestral Voices choreographed by Dianne McIntyre and presented by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. At the suggestion of company founder and artistic director Alvin Ailey, Romare Bearden was commissioned to create the visuals for the work which premiered on the Ailey company, May 13, 1977.
Set to a score by jazz great, Cecil Taylor, Ancestral Voices has been described as an African ritual interpreted through the modern dance idiom. The cast included Ailey standouts Estelle Spurlock, Alistair Butler and Dyane Harvey. In addition to the front curtain, Bearden also created a backdrop, and designed the costumes and headpieces.
Bearden was a wonderful storyteller. And enjoyed retelling the story of creating the visuals for Ancestral Voices. Within those retellings he mentioned how he and his wife Nanette have unsuccessfully tried to retrieve the set and costumes. “They tell us they have just disappeared”, he would simply say.
New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff attended the opening night performance. In a review published the next day on May 14th, 1977, Ms. Kisselgoff reported:
“Ancestral Voices is an abstraction of an African ritual, and the abstract note is obvious from the start in Romare Bearden’s beautiful front curtain of foliage and African forms. The theme of ritual onstage is the world’s four elements – earth, water, air and fire.”
The taping took place on a warm summer evening in Central Park dancer Dyane Harvey added, “I viewed the footage and was gently reminded of the experience of filming Ms. McIntyre’s work during that summer. The cast was comprised of Alistair Butler, Charles Grant, Bernadine Jennings, Dorian Williams and Dianne (McIntyre). As mentioned in the interview we embodied elemental forces against the beautiful backdrop designed and crafted by Romare Bearden. The actual filming process, in the scheme of dance filming, was painless. (Third World Cinema…?) I recall thinking how exhilarating it was to be outside at night performing Dianne’s spirited choreography with so much lavish color and nature surrounding and inspiring us!”
In a recent correspondence with Dianne McIntyre about the collaboration she wrote:
Here is a bit of background for you: Yes, Anna Kisselgoff wrote about the piece, which I was very sorry to read. It is a very bad review for a piece that I must say, was not my best work, and unfortunately (for me) because it had the beautiful costumes and sets by Romare Bearden.
Alvin Ailey invited me to do a work and suggested that Romare Bearden could do the costumes. I was very honored by that. In the work the dancers represented the four elements of nature – air, earth, fire and water. Romare created costumes so intriguing, unique, monumental that they looked like his collages come to life. The poster for that year marketing the Ailey brand was Romare Bearden’s rendering of his costume for Fire. A white and red poster – must be a collector’s item today.
Fortunately, a couple of years later, in a film about Romare was a segment I put together of excerpts from the dance. We shot it in Central Park in front of a fountain during one daytime and evening. The gigantic scrim created from a drawing Romare made for the dance was mounted on the lawn and I had the dancers performing in front and behind the scrim. It was a beautiful adventure.
I am grateful to Alvin Ailey that he introduced me to such a master artist. Romare gave me advice, guidance about my journey as an artist and I have always held him in my vision of the highest one can be as an artist. What he created and the way he worked always made me want to be like him – from watching him I say to myself: Stick to your vision, go for it all the way, don’t waiver, produce and practice every day even in the quiet.
Thank you, Romare Bearden.
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
Stephen Laurel Twitch Boss was an American freestyle hip hop dancer, choreographer, actor, television producer and television personality. In 2008, he finished in second place on the American version of So You Think You Can Dance. Sleep In Heaven! Continue reading