Robert Battle: The Future of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is known for being one of the richest treasures of the art known as dance.

What began with Alvin Ailey and a group of young black modern dancers on March 30, 1958, soon evolved into a revolution of African American participation in 20th-century concert dance.

The native Texan’s technique was vibrant; a mix of expression and rebellion of ballet. Ailey was known as a Cultural Ambassador for the world and you can see why when you watch iconic pieces like Revelations, where the choreography never missed a step.

"Revelations, choreographed by Alvin Ailey in 1960, is still so relevant today simply is because it’s a masterpiece. Know that a masterpiece defies place and time and circumstance," says Robert Battle.

Today, the theater is under the direction of Robert Battle. He’s only the third person to head the company since Ailey.

"Being the artistic director, only the third artistic director of an almost 60-year cultural institution is an honor. I mean more than the pressure I think of it as an honor to steward forward you know the rich legacy of Alvin Ailey."

In January, the International Association of Blacks in Dance honored the trailblazer with the Founder’s Award of Excellence in Artistic Leadership in Dallas, where he was also the keynote speaker.

"To be acknowledged to me is like spiritual reciprocity. It’s really quite wonderful and I always take an honor of any sort or compliment as a challenge rather than an end because it’s a new beginning, because it says 'Okay, you've done this. Now what can you do?'"

As the creative force of the future, Battle has made clear what he can do and there's no doubt he will continue to preserve Ailey’s life in dance.

"Something about that vision to see what is there as oppose to what there isn’t, I think is what lives in the dances that we create so that other people can see it."


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