The Music Center Welcomes Return of Alvin Ailey
Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center (Dance at The Music Center), programmed by TMC Arts, marks the return performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from March 18–22.
The engagement features three independent programs: Program A (New Works) includes Aszure Barton’s BUSK and the West Coast premiere of Jamar Roberts’ acclaimed new work, Ode; Program B (Trailblazers) features Lazarus, a two-act work by Rennie Harris that received its riveting West Coast premiere at The Music Center in April 2019; and Program C (Family Friendly) includes the West Coast premiere of Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Ounce of Faith as well as Jessica Lang’s EN, with a special opportunity for local audiences to see Los Angeles native Matthew Rushing perform again before he transitions full time into his new role as Ailey’s associate artistic director; Rushing, a Music Center Spotlight finalist has danced with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1992. Each of the three programs ends with Alvin Ailey’s seminal masterpiece Revelations, an homage to the rich African-American cultural tradition that explores the emotional spectrum of struggle and salvation, grief and joy.
Performing for more than six decades, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues to celebrate the human spirit with programs that highlight the beauty and humanity of African-American heritage and other cultures, while uniting people of all races, ages and backgrounds. Under the leadership of its visionary Artistic Director Robert Battle, the company continues to honor the legacy of its founder, while stewarding the next generation of choreographers.
“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s contribution to American culture is beyond measure,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “Angelenos clamor to experience the innovative, passionate performances that are the company’s hallmark. By using dance to communicate and mirror some of our deepest emotions, Ailey offers vital perspectives on social justice issues that challenge humanity and reflect the times we live in. Yet, at the same time, the company’s work uplifts our souls and gives audiences reasons to jump out of their seats and dance in the aisles.”
Ailey company member and Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts offers a healing meditation on the beauty and fragility of life in a time of growing gun violence. Ode, which will have its West Coast premiere at The Music Center, is Roberts’ second Ailey commission. Set to a Jazz score—Don Pullen’s Suite (Sweet) Malcolm (Part 1 Memories and Gunshots)—and using Roberts’ own costume designs, Ode is a poetic tribute to victims and addresses a tough issue through the lens of love. Ode runs 17 minutes and features six dancers with set design by Libby Stadstad and lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker. (Program A)
Also making its West Coast debut at The Music Center is Ounce of Faith, an exuberant work by Darrell Grand Moultrie that depicts the lasting impact of a teacher’s influence on a young child. Using a mix of Jazz standards by Wynton Marsalis and Yacub Addy, and Aisha Jackson and Dante Hawkins, original music by Chuck Harmony and spoken word by the choreographer, Ounce of Faith explores the notion that “when someone has an ounce of faith in you, it can change the course of your life.” Anchoring a family-friendly program with uplifting messaging, Ounce of Faith has a run time of 29 minutes and showcases costumes by Mark Eric and lighting by Mark Stanley. (Program C)
Choreographed by Bessie and Arison awards-winner Jessica Lang, EN is a celebratory ensemble work that introduces an original, electronic score by composer Jakub Ciupinski. EN reflects on the universal experience of coming full circle and communicates the passage of time through the use of light and movement. The piece takes inspiration from the Japanese character, “En,” which represents the multiple meanings of circle, destiny, fate or karma. Acclaimed dancer Matthew Rushing, who began his dance career in his hometown of Los Angeles, will perform in this piece, making a rare appearance at The Music Center; the 30-year Ailey veteran became rehearsal director in June 2010 before assuming his current role of Ailey Associate artistic director of the company in January 2020. The 21-minute work features costumes by Bradon McDonald and lighting by Nicole Pearce with set design by Lang and Pearce. (Program C)
In BUSK, internationally renowned choreographer Aszure Barton illustrates the fragility, tenderness and resilience that exist within the human experience. Set to a spirited score, BUSK has been described as watching the physical unfurling of the human psyche. Under Barton’s direction, the dancers must tap into the collective—a hive mind—to execute the choreographer’s layered and intricate structures, which then give way to the nuance of each individual. With costumes by Michelle Jank and lighting/set design by Nicole Pearce, BUSK runs 20 minutes. (Program A)
With Lazarus, renowned Hip-Hop choreographer Rennie Harris connects past and present in a powerful work that addresses the racial inequities America faced when Alvin Ailey founded his company in 1958, and still today. The company’s first two-act work, Lazarus is an ensemble piece with a soundtrack that melds Nina Simone, Terrence Trent D’Arby, Michael Kiwanuka, Odetta, original music by Darrin Ross and the voice of Alvin Ailey. The hour-long piece, divided in two sections separated by an intermission, was inspired by the life and times of Alvin Ailey and features lighting by James Clotfelter and costumes by Mark Eric. (Program B)
An original masterpiece choreographed by Alvin Ailey, Revelations uses African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues ranging from the emotional “I Been ’Buked,” to the rousing “Wade in the Water” and the triumphant finale “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” The 36-minute piece is a Los Angeles favorite and has been one of the most widely-seen modern dances works in the world since its 1960 debut. Revelations showcases décor and costumes by Ves Harper and costumes for the “Rocka My Soul” section redesigned by Barbara Forbes, and lighting by Nicola Cernovitch. (All programs)
Tickets for Ailey Revealed performances at The Music Center are available online at https://www.musiccenter.org/ailey; at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012; or by calling (213) 972-0711.