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Celebrate the Holiday Season with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City

Watching the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater makes me proud to be a Black woman. This ballet company is graced by dancers of color who can tackle any technique or dance style. But whether the choreography is rooted in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop or ballet, they do it the Ailey way, which means they move with so much culturally rooted soulfulness and swag that I find myself marveling at their languid form and fierce footwork. In my lifetime, I've seen the Ailey company perform at least a dozen times and each time I picked a performance that included Mr. Ailey's beloved "Revelations." I will never grow tired of witnessing this jubilant homage to the Black Southern Baptist church. By the end I'm always standing, singing and clapping along with the rest of the audience's Amen chorus. Yes, rock a my soul in the bosom of Abraham!

Like most theatrical events and performing arts programs, this is Ailey's comeback season after going dark in 2020 due to the pandemic.  And as stunning as "Revelations" was on the recent matinee performance I attended, I was equally mesmerized by another work. "Shelter," choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women, premiered in 1988 and was first performed by the Ailey company in 1992. The piece -- grounded in dizzying African dance movement and performed purposefully, intensely and entrancingly by six dynamic female dancers -- offers a meditation on the emotional and physical deprivation of homelessness which is still shamefully relevant today. 

Updated to reflect the signs of the climate changing times with a haunting drum-driven score and urgent poetry by Hattie Gassett and Laurie Carlos, this dramatic work demystifies the trickle down theory and prophesies that the poverty of some may inevitably lead to the downfall of us all.  Many of us are living paycheck to paycheck and could easily find ourselves with "good will dried up" and "at the intersection of reduced resources and reverberating rage." 



The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is Black excellence personified. Don't miss your chance to witness the company in action at New York City Center through December 19, 2021. Proof of vaccination is required. Then catch them on a 20+ city national tour, January 25 - May 8, 2022.

Photo credit: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter. Photo by Paul Kolnik.


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