Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Set to Celebrate Its 60th Anniversary

Posted July 31, 2018 8:59 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — Sixty years after Alvin Ailey and a group of African-American dancers performed for one night only at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will celebrate its anniversary with “Ailey Ascending,” a season featuring its first two-act ballet, a festival, an international tour and a month of performances at City Center.

“What Mr. Ailey gave us is more than a repertory and a tradition,” Robert Battle, the organization’s artistic director, said in a statement. “It is a movement, a direction, a desire, a conviction that if the spirit is to live it must rise. We dedicate our 60th anniversary to the next ascent.”

After international tour stops in Athens, Greece, Geneva and Zurich in September, the company will return to New York in October for “Choreography Unlocked,” a festival with performances, classes and discussions at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. Camille A. Brown and Netta Yerushalmy will be among the festival’s performers. Classes will be led by Battle, Stefanie Batten Bland and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

The troupe will relocate to City Center from Nov. 28 through Dec. 30. Rennie Harris’ “Lazarus,” a two-act ballet inspired by Ailey’s life and legacy, will debut there as part of the engagement. (Harris is the company’s inaugural artist-in-residence.) Ronald K. Brown’s “The Call” will also receive its world premiere at City Center.

Other notable performances will include Jessica Lang’s “EN,” which the company recently performed at Lincoln Center, and a new production of Battle’s “Juba,” the first work he created for the company, in 2003. Ailey’s work will, of course, be the focus of several of the season’s programs. “Timeless Ailey” will include excerpts from rarely seen pieces, while “All Ailey” will feature full works.

A North American tour of more than 20 cities will follow in the winter and spring.

To commemorate the troupe’s 1958 performance at the 92nd Street Y, Ailey II, the company’s junior division, will perform there on Feb. 1, 2019. The performance will be paired with a conversation between Sylvia Waters, the Ailey II artistic director emeritus, and Troy Powell, the group’s current artistic director.