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Ailey II performing Robert Battle’s Takademe at the 2022 Ailey Spirit Gala. Photo by Donna Ward

Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2022 Lincoln Center engagement continued last night with the star-studded Ailey Spirit Gala. The centerpiece of Ailey’s engagement celebrated a decade of Robert Battle’s leadership.

The benefit honored Verizon, one of the nation’s leading and largest technology companies, for their generous funding and steadfast support of Ailey’s vital community and education programs including AileyCamp, a transformative, full-scholarship summer day camp that uses dance as a means to help youth stretch their minds, bodies, and spirits. Honorary Chair was Grammy® Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, singer, and producer Cynthia Erivo, most recently seen in Apple TV+’s anthology series Roar. Erivo will star in Netflix’s forthcoming feature film Luther alongside Idris Elba and Andy Serkis as well as bring to life the iconic Blue Fairy in Disney’s live-action retelling of Pinocchio. She will also star in Universal’s film adaptation of the hit musical WICKED. Gala Co-Chairs were Michele & Timothy Barakett, Anthony A. Lewis, Stephen Meringoff, Dr. Danielle Robinson & Reverend Dwayne McClary, and Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach and Dennis Williams. Proceeds will support Ailey’s extensive educational and training programs for young people, including AileyCamp and scholarships to The Ailey School.

Guests experienced a powerful one-night-only performance that united all parts of the Ailey organization performing works by Artistic Director Robert Battle, capping the celebration of his decade-long leadership at Ailey. The evening featured Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Unfold evoking the tenderness and ecstasy in Gustave Charpentier’s aria “Depuis Le Jour” sung by the incomparable Leontyne Price and Love Stories finale, a joyful ballet portraying a luminous future built on the lessons and legacy of the past. The rising stars of Ailey II presented a special amplified version of Battle’s Takademe; where clear shapes and propulsive jumps mimic the vocalized rhythmic syllables of Sheila Chandra’s jazzy score in this percussive, fast-paced work; gifted young dancers from The Ailey Schoolshowcased their talents and breadth of the program’s training in an excerpt from Awakening, a dance that expertly balances chaos and resolution, dissonance and harmony; and the talented AileyCampers from New York and Newark performed an excerpt of The Hunt, Battle’s dynamic work revealing the robust side of human nature and the thrill of the hunt. The performance culminated with a memorable Revelations finale.

Artistic Director Robert Battle and Honoree Ailey Board Member Anthony A. Lewis at the 2022 Ailey Spirit Gala. Photo by Pete Monsanto

Prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy, and politics attended the gala, including J. Alexander, Legendary Damon, Tremaine Emory, Savion Glover, Jillian Hervey (Lion Babe), Ally Love, Amy Poehler, Amy Sherald, Lorraine Toussaint, Lena Waithe, TK Wonder and others. After the performance, Ailey’s Board of Trustees and 475 guests joined for a soiree on the promenade with musical stylings from DJ Angel.

Ailey’s Lincoln Center engagement continues with three special programs – Contemporary Creators, Masterful Movement, and a Battle 10th Anniversary – including Ailey Pride Night, a Saturday Family Matinee featuring a free Q&A with Robert Battle, and an evening Celebrating Jacqueline Green, a beloved Company member in her farewell engagement after more than a decade of lighting up the stage. The season will close with a Juneteenth Father’s Day Matinee. For the comprehensive season press release, with details on the programs and repertory, click here.

During Ailey’s Lincoln Center engagement, Ailey Extension invites movers from all walks of life to join in the dance with free in-person and virtual dance classes exploring different techniques during NYC Dance Week (June 9-18). For more information on Ailey Extension’s NYC Dance Week activities, click here.

About the Author

Ann is a freelance writer who started her professional career at the NY Trend more than two decades ago. Ann has since gone on to write for a number of major outlets including: Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire, Pathfinders, Frequent Flier, Playboy, The Source, Girl, Upscale, For Harriet, The Network Journal, AFKInsider, Africa Strictly Business, AFKTravel, among others.