There may not be a crowd of folks gathering around a birthday cake. But make no mistake — Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is celebrating the anniversary of the company’s very first performance, on March 30, 1958, and we’re all invited. The organization is launching Ailey All Access (www.alvinailey.org/ailey-all-access) to share free online streaming of performances, classes, workshops, conversations, and short original films by company dancers.
During his lifetime, Ailey maintained that dance “came from the people and … should always be delivered back to the people.” That philosophy has driven the Ailey organization’s mission for more than six decades. With the cancellation of live activities, Ailey All Access provides a heightened digital platform to share Ailey’s spirit.
Ailey All Access kicks off with Monday’s 7 p.m. screening of Ailey’s moving “Revelations,” an undisputed masterwork that company artistic director Robert Battle calls “the ultimate prayer about overcoming adversity.” He says, “It’s all about bringing people together. At its core is a message [that] we are all in this human family and can get through [this] with hope and faith.”
The performance series continues with weekly Thursday screenings that include works choreographed by Judith Jamison, Camille A. Brown, Rennie Harris, and others. From the Ailey All Access site, visitors also can connect to dancer videos on the Ailey Instagram account (@alvinailey) or the Ailey YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/AileyOrganization), as well as free dance classes via Ailey Extension (aileyextension.com).
“The arts play an important role in times of stress and fear,” says Battle, “offering something like a balm [that] can heal and breathe positive imagination and beauty. So how can we not, when access is limited, have a loud voice and continue to be accessible and bring dance back to the people?”
Karen Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.