“There is a lot to be said about a dance company that after 60 years isn’t just surviving,” says Robert Battle, the Liberty City-raised dancer who now serves as the artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “In fact, we are thriving.” To commemorate the landmark anniversary, the troupe (born on New York City’s 92nd Street Y’s stage during a one-night-only engagement) is hitting the road with a show that celebrates its past and present.
The repertoire includes Rennie Harris’ Lazarus, a powerful premiere that addresses the racial inequalities during the company founder’s rising profile in 1958, as well as Juba, Battle’s first work for Alvin Ailey, which explores ritual and folk traditions in today’s society. Another standout is choreographer Wayne McGregor’s premiere of Kairos, a program that marries ballet with modern dance played out to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as reimagined by experimental composer Max Richter. At the core of the repertoire, Alvin Ailey’s own choreography shines in the signature Revelations, a piece that has wowed audiences for decades by paying homage to the rich cultural heritage of the African-American community.
For the Miami-born Battle, the troupe’s stop in his hometown goes beyond a mere performance on an intense 21-city tour circuit.
“I first saw Alvin Ailey in Miami at the Jackie Gleason Theater,” he says. “Coming back at the helm of this company says a lot about possibilities to any young person. It’s important to me on a personal level, especially as we mark an anniversary of a cultural institution created by a legendary man.” Feb. 14-17, times vary, $29-$119, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305.949.6722, arshtcenter.org