The upcoming season of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City Center will celebrate Robert Battle’s tenth anniversary as artistic director, the company announced on Wednesday. After the difficulties of the past 17 months, Battle is more open to the opportunity than it otherwise would have been.
“Being part of the problem-solving that took place and getting us through this way has, in a way, made me feel a bit better at those 10 years,” he said in an interview. “There’s something going through that makes me think, ‘Hey, if I go through this, I’ll definitely take the good and I’ll do it.'”
During his tenure with Ailey, Battle founded the New Directions Choreography Lab, an initiative to support aspiring and medium-sized dance professionals, and named Jamar Roberts as the company’s first resident choreographer. “When I started creating, I was fortunate to have David Parsons to speak for me,” said Battle. “I’ve always wanted to pay for that.”
His support has paid off. Roberts has created several critically acclaimed dances since taking office in 2019, including “Members Don’t Get Weary” and “Ode”. his farewell performance on December 9th was announced along with the season’s slate.
Two dances that debuted online will be performed live for the first time as part of the three-week City Center engagement. Battles “For Four”, a piece for four dancers to a jazz score by Wynton Marsalis, will make its full stage debut on December 3rd with Roberts’ “Holding Space”.
New productions of older works will also be on view throughout the season: Ailey’s “Pas de Duke,” which Jacqueline Green and Yannick Lebrun performed for a dance video in the Woolworth Building in 2020; “The River,” Ailey’s 1970 collaboration with Duke Ellington; an Ailey solo, “Reflections in D”; and “Unfold,” a recent work by Battle.
Looking ahead, Battle said he would like to focus more on preserving and sharing works by underrated choreographers: “The idea of being an archive for historical works really interests me, really promoting it.”
Ticket sales begin on October 12th. More information is available at alvinailey.org.