Artistic director Robert Battle makes his Philadelphia debut leading "Culture Ambassador to the World" Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the Merriam Theater, Wednesday-Friday, tonight, January 30-February 1, times vary. Program highlights vary according to performance night including the company premiere of Robert Battle's Strange Humors and Takademe, Philly native hip hop choreographer Rennie Harris' Home; Choreographers Paul Taylor's Arden Court; Garth Fagan's From Before; Ronald K. Brown's Grace, and Alvin Ailey's timeless classic, Revelations.
Program highlights tonight, Jan. 30 and Friday, Feb. 1 include: Paul Taylor's Arden Court, a piece significant to Battle that stirred him to describe Taylor as a choreographer who "...has the language of a great poet in his dances." The program continues with Battle's Takademe, the Indian Kathak dance inspired piece with percussive, high-flying dance elements, which Battle first choreographed the in his tiny Queens, N.Y. living room while still a member of the Parsons Dance Company. Home, a bold hip-hop piece puts the spotlight on Philly native choreographer Rennie Harris; inspired by the stories of people living with and affected by HIV, Home first premiered on December 1, 2011, World Aids Day, a poignant memory for the Ailey organization as it is the same date founder Alvin Ailey died from the disease in 1989. The program closes with Ailey's signature masterpiece, Revelations, which pays homage to and reflects the cultural heritage of the African-American experience.
The program for Thursday, Jan. 31 showcases choreographer Ronald K. Brown's Grace, a spellbinding piece depicting individuals on a journey to the promised land that The New York Times describes as, "astounding, something to be sensed as well as seen." Jamaican-born choreographer Garth Fagan (Tony Award winner for The Lion King) echoes his West Indian tradition in From Before, with a rhythmic, uplifting score composed by Trinidadian Grammy winner Ralph McDonald. In this ensemble work, undulating torsos move independently of gyrating hips, juxtaposed against fiery solos. Robert Battle's company premiere of Strange Humors, showcases an eccentric, jocular display of two dancers performing to a fiery score by Composer John Mackey that includes elements of African hand drumming and Middle Eastern folk music. The performance closes with Ailey's widely-popular and beloved cultural treasure, Revelations.
Tickets for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater are $39 to $75 and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, online at www.kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center box office open daily from 10am to 6pm and later on performance evenings. (Additional fees may apply.) For group sales call 215-790-5883.