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Kyle Abraham debuts new dance piece in Boston

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Kyle Abraham debuts new dance piece in Boston
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham PHOTO: Peter Hönnemann

Groundbreaking choreographer Kyle Abraham and his company A.I.M by Kyle Abraham present a new composition, “Requiem: Fire in the Air of the Earth” Nov. 18-19 at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. Co-commissioned by Celebrity Series of Boston, the performance is a contemporary interpretation of Mozart’s “Requiem,” with Abraham’s innovative choreography celebrating Black dance styles.

“I started thinking about these ideas around rebirth and reincarnation and folklore and mythology and how I could explore Black futurism in ways that connected with those themes,” says Abraham. A lover of science fiction who grew up on Marvel comics, Abraham leaned into the idea of regeneration rather than the more traditional death motif.

Claude “CJ” Johnson and Dorchell Haqq in “Requiem: Fire in the Air of the Earth.” PHOTO: PETER HÖNNEMANN

Music producer Jlin created an electronic edition of Mozar’s “Requiem in D minor” for the project. The contemporary take on the classic score provides the perfect base for Abraham’s signature mash-up of dance styles, bringing in everything from hip-hop to ballet to express the emotions in the piece. Abraham also collaborated with fashion guru Giles Deacon on the costumes and innovator Dan Scully on the lighting. It’s through these collective creative energies that the piece Abraham envisioned was fully realized.

“Kyle is one of the most sought-after choreographers of our time for his introspective and fresh approach to storytelling,” said Celebrity Series Executive Director Gary Dunning. “This work’s themes of grief and remembrance, loss and celebration resonate deeply with audiences.”

A.I.M by Kyle Abraham is a company rooted in Black culture and history. They utilize movement as well as music, text, video and visual art to articulate stories and emotions central to the Black experience and the overarching human experience.

Company dancers will host a master class workshop with Boston Arts Academy students on November 17 as part of their Boston tour. Giving back to the communities they perform in is an important tenant of Abraham’s company. That doesn’t always take the form of a dance class, but with so many high-level performing arts schools in the area, working with youth dancers to express themselves was a natural fit.

The dancers also run “A.I.M for Change,” a program that provides education and resources on topics ranging from mental health resources to recommended anti-racism reading materials.

No matter what the activation, Abraham believes strongly in the power of the arts to impact society at large. “As we tour in a lot of different spaces we try to take the time to connect with the community as best we can,” says Abraham. “When given the opportunity to dream they will dream really big.”