50th Anniversary Celebration Of The Ailey School Launches With The Ailey Spirit Gala Benefit

Students from The Ailey School Professional Division (Photo by Nir Arieli)

(New York) – The centerpiece of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Lincoln Center engagement is The Ailey Spirit Gala on Thursday, June 13th. The event launches the 50th Anniversary celebration of The Ailey School, which has served as a springboard for many notable artists, including more than 70% of the dancers in the Company. The evening’s Honorary Chair is award-winning actress Lorraine Toussaint, who currently stars in NBC’s The Village, Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, AMC’s Into the Badlands, and the recently released supernatural thriller Fast Color. She will also star in the upcoming films Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and The Glorias, where she will portray the iconic feminist and civil right activist Flo Kennedy opposite Julianne Moore. Toussaint is the parent of a student at The Ailey School.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will be honored for its longtime commitment to the Ailey organization, especially its transformative support of The Ailey School to launch lasting initiatives like the Ailey Athletic Boys scholarship program that introduces young male students into the world of dance. The Foundation’s President and CEO Ed Henry will accept the honor during an onstage presentation by Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle.

The Ailey Spirit Gala raises funds to support scholarships to The Ailey School and Ailey’s Arts In Education & Community Programs, including AileyCamp an innovative, full-scholarship summer day camp that uses dance as a means to help inner-city youth stretch their minds, bodies, and spirits. Gala Co-Chairs are Michele & Timothy Barakett, Tia Breakley-China & Robert China, Stephen Meringoff, Almaz & Marc S. Strachan and Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach; and Vice Chairs are Joy Altimare, Jaishri & Vikas Kapoor, and Leslie & Tom Maheras.

Guests will see the impact of their giving firsthand in the one-night-only performance that brings together former AileyCampers from New York and Newark, talented students from The Ailey School, rising stars of Ailey II, and the incomparable members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in a tribute to The School’s impact choreographed by Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell.

Alvin Ailey in 1989 with students from The Ailey School including Tracy Inman who is now the Co-Director of The Ailey School (Photo Courtesy of Ailey Archives)

The piece d’Occasion follows the story of a young boy from an Arts In Education program to the Company, which parallels the inspiring journeys of Powell who was discovered by Mr. Ailey at an outreach activity at age 9 and awarded a scholarship to The Ailey School, before dancing with both companies and later leading the junior company and Ailey dancer Solomon Dumas who was introduced to dance at AileyCamp Chicago and has participated in all parts of the organization. Following an uplifting Revelations finale, a festive soire takes place on the promenade with dancing to the spinning of DJ M.O.S.

In addition to former Ailey School alumni remaining close to home and setting new works on students, others have forged successful careers around the globe in education, concert and commercial dance, Broadway, film, and television. The Ailey School’s Co-Director Tracy Inman studied at the School on scholarship, was a member of Ailey II and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and is currently a consultant and choreographer for the TV show Pose on FX. Other alumni working on exciting projects include Ailey/Fordham BFA graduate Marija Abney, who recently appeared in the Academy Award-winning film Black Panther, and former Ailey II dancer and Ailey/Fordham University BFA graduate Ephraim Sykes who has received a 2019 Tony nomination for his role in the new musical Ain’t Too Proud.

The Ailey School Summer Intensive

Bringing to life Mr. Ailey’s belief that dance came from the people and should always be delivered back to the people, The Ailey School provides aspiring dancers and emerging teachers the opportunity to study dance at the largest building dedicated to dance in the cultural center of the world The Joan Weill Center for Dance in New York City. The 2019 Summer Intensive will present a rare opportunity for advanced students to learn from living legend and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, who will break down Mr. Ailey’s signature repertory and lead a discussion about his legacy and impact.

From July 8 July 19, teachers from around the world are invited to participate in the Horton Pedagogy Workshop to increase their knowledge of the unique American modern dance technique created by late choreographer Lester Horton. Led by master teacher and scholar of the Horton vocabulary, Ana Marie Forsythe, the workshop will feature lectures and demonstrations related to the technique, which is most visible today in Mr. Ailey’s work, including Cry, Memoria, Night Creature, and Revelations, and is the core training technique for students at The Ailey School. Alongside Ana Marie Forsythe, faculty at The Ailey School have direct lineage to the modern masters of the world, such as Penny Frank (Graham), Carolyn Adams (Taylor), and former Ailey dancers Renee Robinson, Guillermo Asca, and Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish.

50th Anniversary Events Continue

The Ailey School’s momentous 50th Anniversary will continue through Ailey’s New York City Center fall/winter season with New Directions Choreography Lab (NDCL), a creative residence for emerging and established choreographers created by Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle, and the Ailey Students Ailey Professionals (ASAP) mentoring program, which builds a mentor/mentee relationship with members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater over the course of three months. In addition, there will be an alumni panel discussion and series of master classes with Ms. Jamison and former Ailey School students from various industries, such as Broadway, commercial dance, and more.

A master class series, panel discussions featuring alumni, and other special activities for the fall semester to be announced.

For 50 years, The Ailey School has been enriching and inspiring generations, honoring the vision of Alvin Ailey by providing superior professional dance training and artistic leadership to the next generation of performing artists.

For further information: alvinailey.org


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