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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Celebrates 65th Anniversary Season at the TPAC in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville, Tennessee from April 26-28, 2024 as part of a 21-city United States tour that is celebrating their acclaimed 65th Anniversary season. The troupe presented a classical and contemporary mix of routines that honored the legacy of Alvin Ailey and showcased new programs.

As the story goes back in 1958 at The 92nd Street Y in NYC, Alvin Ailey led a group of young dancers in a format that forever changed the perception of American dance. Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) was an activist, choreographer, dancer and director who founded the company that bears his name which later became the Ailey School. Alvin established a place to nurture Black artists and the universality of the African-American experience through dance. Ailey blended ballet, jazz, modern dance and theater to raise global awareness of Black life in the United States. His Revelations is considered a masterwork that is one of the most popular and most performed ballets in the world.

Friday night featured new works and Revelations. Saturday and Sunday showcased Ailey Classics I & II along with Revelations. We had the pleasure of attending the first night of performances that included Century by Amy Hall Garne. Century is Amy's first for Ailey and is a celebration of life, resilience and joy inspired by her grandfather on the eve of his 100th birthday. This personal piece is danced to the music of Count Basie, Ray Charles and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Are You in Your Feelings? is a new creation by acclaimed choreographer Kyle Abraham. This dance honors Black culture scored to a "mixtape" of hip-hop, R&B and soul while exploring the connections among music, communication and personal memory.

Ailey Classics I and II is a two-act program highlighting some of Mr. Ailey's best-loved ballets, comprising of Pas de Duke, Masekela Langage, Opus McShann and more. Revelations is considered a cultural treasure that is a tribute to Alvin's heritage where African American spirituals are used to portray the joy and sorrow of the soul through dance.

On Friday each routine was dramatically different in movements, music and visuals but all were technically impressive dances. Century set to the sounds of jazz showcased grace and giddiness in arrangements that featured singles, doubles and several groups. Are You in Your Feelings? combined music with spoken words as the dancers interacted with each other expressing a range of emotions in somewhat shadowy lighting. Last was the riveting Revelations that led us on a pilgrimage of sorrow then to the water and lastly "Move Members Move" that concluded with the energized and hopeful message of "Rocks My Soul" that ended this diverse and engaging production on a high note.

Thank you to the TPAC for hosting Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The nonprofit TPAC is located in downtown Nashville in the James K. Polk Cultural Center at 505 Deaderick Street. Since 1980, the TPAC has supported the cultural and performing arts. They also provide the community with teacher resources, professional development opportunities, classroom residencies, and enrichment programs. Each season the TPAC offers an outstanding list of shows including Frozen (May 7-18, 2024). Please visit the TPAC's website for a full list of upcoming events.

Related Links: For more information on ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater | TPAC


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