Fans of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater were thrilled to see a return to Toronto for the company’s 60th anniversary tour at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday. The tour coincides with Black History Month in Canada – known as African-American History Month in the USA – which began on Feb. 1 and ends on Feb. 28. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has a long history of breaking cultural and artistic barriers, going all the way back to 1958 in New York City, when Mr. Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers’ performance changed forever the perception of American dance.
The anniversary tour program, created by Artistic Director Robert Battle, places new work alongside older work. By showcasing both, the tour gives perspective to the journey and legacy the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is responsible for – the keeping alive of memory and tradition, while at the same time forging ahead in new directions that will challenge and uphold the iconic image of the dance company.
The Friday evening performance was the Canadian debut of Members Don’t Get Weary, created by choreographer Jamar Roberts, an acclaimed dancer with the company. Roberts says, “As a response to the current social landscape in America, Members Don’t Get Weary takes an abstract look into the notion of one ‘having the blues.’” Set to the music of the legendary American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, the work uses the dancing body to inspire the audience to transcend their own personal blues momentarily.
The 1960’s masterpiece Revelations was the inspiring finale of the evening. This company classic has been seen by more audiences around the world than almost any other modern work. Revelations has become a cultural treasure with its African-American spirituals, gospel songs and holy blues.
Congratulations to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 60 years of preserving and giving voice to the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. Here’s to 60 more years of Alvin Ailey inspired performances with powerful messages on humanity, freedom and dignity.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 60th Anniversary Tour took place at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, in downtown Toronto, at 1 Front Street East on Feb. 1 and 2, 2019. For more information please click here.
This special event was part of the Civic Theatres’ 2018-19 Dance Collection series.
Here are the remaining presentations for the 2019 calendar:
• Ballet BC – MIXED PROGRAMME – March 29 & 30 (St. Lawrence Centre)
• Batsheva Dance Company – VENEZUEL – April 9 (Sony Centre)
• Eifman Ballet St. Petersburg – TCHAIKOVSKY. PRO ET CONTRA – May 9-11 (Sony Centre)
About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now‐fabled March 1958 performance in New York City. Founded by Alvin Ailey, recent posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor, the company is now led by Robert Battle. The Alvin Ailey Company has been recognized by a USA Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” and has performed for over 25 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on six continents.
The Ailey organization also includes Ailey II, a second performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School, one of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, which brings dance into the classrooms, communities and lives of people of all ages; and The Ailey Extension, a program offering dance and fitness classes to the general public. For more information visit www.alvinailey.org.
About Civic Theatres Toronto
Civic Theatres Toronto is one of the city’s largest multi-arts organizations, presenting a full range of performing arts, theatrical and concert events in both downtown and uptown Toronto at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and the Toronto Centre for the Arts. As a charitable non-profit organization, the mission of Civic Theatres Toronto is to activate creative spaces by inspiring local and international artists, connect audiences and to be the nexus for new ideas, elevate artistic potential, and be the catalyst for creative expression that is reflective of Toronto’s diversity.