On December 1, 2010, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater hosted its 2010 opening night gala benefit at the Hilton New York and began the celebration of a milestone, 50 years of Ailey’s Revelations, a ballet that has been performed countless times across the world. Alvin Ailey was only 29 years old when he was inspired to create this landmark ballet based on what he called his “blood memories,” and the work of African‐American writers James Baldwin and Langston Hughes.
Called an American classic and a “must see for all people,” the ballet was part of the Opening Ceremonies of the 1968 Olympics, and has been presented on five separate occasions at the White House, including the inaugurations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and most recently, The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison presented by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Honored guests at the gala included Alfre Woodard, Robin Roberts, Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault, Sanford Weill and The Weill Family Foundation, Janice Savin Williams and Christopher J. Williams, and Tawana Tibbs and Bruce S. Gordon.
The opening night performance also featured the company premiere of The Hunt, choreographed by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle, and Cry choreographed by Alvin Ailey. Grammy Award winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock provided live music during Revelations.
Also on December 1st, the observance of World AIDS Day, the company announced a first of its kind collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to launch the 2011 REYATAZ® (atazanavir sulfate) “Fight HIV Your Way” contest. The contest aims to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among the general public and inspire people impacted by the disease to continue their fight.
Now in its third year, the contest incorporates the power of dance to celebrate the inspiring stories of selected individuals across the country who are fighting HIV their way. Beginning December 1, 2010 through February 28, 2011, individuals touched by HIV and AIDS are invited to share their stories – as a photo and essay – through http://www.fighthivyourway.com/ or mail in their entries.
Ten first place winners will be announced in July 2011. These winning entries will be the inspiration for a new dance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, created by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle. The work will have its world premiere during Ailey’s New York City Center season in December 2011 and be performed across the country as part of a 2012 national tour.
“Today, as we open Ailey’s New York season celebrating 50 years of Alvin Ailey’s inspiring Revelations and announce the launch of the Reyataz ‘Fight HIV Your Way’ contest, the poignancy of this date couldn’t be stronger: we lost our founder, Alvin Ailey, to the disease 21 years ago on December 1st, 1989,” shared outgoing Artistic Director Judith Jamison. “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is proud to be paying homage to the thousands of individuals fighting HIV their way and look forward to unveiling this original collaboration next year.”
For more information about upcoming performances, visit http://www.alvinailey.org/.
Photo credit: Sanford Weill, Judith Jamison, outgoing artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and Richard Parsons, Chairman of Citigroup, attend the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater opening night gala benefit at the Hilton New York on December 1, 2010 in New York City. Proceeds benefited children’s educational programming and scholarships to The Ailey School.