Ailey at 60: alive, engaging and inspiring

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Thirty years after his death, Alvin Ailey’s genius is still making the world a better place


  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Jacquelin Harris and Chalvar Monteiro. Photo: Andrew Eccles.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Rennie Harris' "Lazarus." Photo: Paul Kolnik.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's "Revelations." Photo: Paul Kolnik.

“Dance is for everybody. I believe that dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.”

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey didn’t make it to 60. He died in 1989 at age 58 in Lenox Hill Hospital due to complications from AIDS. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, however, continues his legacy and vision and is celebrating its 60th season. In 1958, Ailey led his troupe of young African American performers onto the stage of the 92nd Street Y and changed the world of dance forever. They’ve since been recognized as global ambassadors of American culture and some of the most original, dynamic, passionate and unforgettable artists on the world stage.

They return from a cross-country tour to New York for their 2019 Lincoln Center season from June 12-16. Several programs offer chances to see world premieres of new dances by up-and-coming choreographers, and ground-breaking pieces like Rennie Harris’ soulful, hip-hop inspired ballet, “Lazarus.” Each performance will conclude with Ailey’s masterwork, “Revelations.”

Drawn from life experiences like celebrations and spiritual milestones such as baptisms and funerals, “Revelations” transforms the familiar into elegant art. Through a combination of jazz, gospel, blues, inventive choreography, and expressive movement that’s at turns tense, triumphant, and tender, it gives voice and vision to African American cultural experience. Says dancer Hope Boykin, “‘Revelations’ takes you on a journey from struggle through surrender to salvation.”

In addition to his renown as a dancer and choreographer, Ailey is remembered as a human rights and LGBTQ icon. In that spirit, the troupe will participate throughout Pride Month in New York with special performances and free lessons at Ailey Extension as part of NYC Dance Week (June 13-22). Coinciding with the troupe’s 60th anniversary, Fox Searchlight just announced that the director of the Academy Award winning film “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins, will be directing a film based on Ailey’s life and work.

“I am trying to show the world we are all human beings, that color is not important, that what is important is the quality of our work, a culture in which the young are not afraid to take chances and can hold onto their values and self-esteem, especially in the arts and dance,” said Ailey. “That’s what it’s all about to me.”

your Dance week dance card

Ailey at Lincoln Center | Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

June 12 - 16

David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

NYC Dance Week

June 13 – June 22

Ailey Extension

405 W 55th NY, NY 10019

NYC Dance Week Kick-Off Event with Summer in the Square

June 13 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM,

Union Square South Plaza & West Side Seating Area

Funkar — The Artist Within You

NYC10 Dance Initiative,

June 19, 7:30 PM,

Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St.

Dance Classes

June 13-June 22

Noted studios like Ailey Extension, Fred Astaire, Mark Morris Dance Center, H+ The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory, and Harlem Dance Club

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