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Alvin Ailey dance company brings repertoire and more to Boston

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Alvin Ailey dance company brings repertoire and more to Boston
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Kyle Abraham’s “Are You in Your Feelings?” PHOTO: PAUL KOLNIK

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will grace the Boston stage once again May 4-7, presented by Celebrity Series of Boston at the Boch Center Wang Theatre. As one of the most well-known African American dance companies in the world, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s annual tour to Boston is a hallmark of the spring season.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Vernard Gilmore and Ghrai DeVore-Stokes in Alvin Ailey’s “Survivors.” PHOTO: PAUL KOLNIK

This year it will be a broad, sweeping program, showcasing some of the best works in the Ailey repertoire, as well as four Boston premieres. On May 5 and 7, viewers can experience “Survivors,” a new adaptation of a 1986 Ailey piece co-choreographed with Mary Barnett. The piece pays tribute to Nelson and Winnie Mandela using the powerful beats of Max Roach’s drumming and vocals by Abbey Lincoln to ground the work. “Survivors” was revitalized in 2022. 

Robert Battle, the Ailey company’s artistic director, says of the program, “These dances connect audiences with some of the richest, deepest works Alvin Ailey choreographed, shows off the brilliance of our dancers in pieces by Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor, who were great contemporaries of Mr. Ailey’s, and introduces amazing new works by Kyle Abraham and Jamar Roberts that find reservoirs of love and resilience in our complicated lives and times.”

Lawrence native and Boston Arts Academy alum Belén Indhira Pereyra in Robert Battle’s “For Four.” PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER DUGGAN

For Bostonians, there’s a local draw to the show as well. Lawrence native and Boston Arts Academy alum Belén Indhira Pereyra has been with the Ailey Company since 2011 and will perform in several numbers, returning to the stages that she dreamed about as a child. Four new-to-Boston dancers — Alisha Rena Peek, Deidre Rogan, Hannah Alissa Richardson and Christopher Taylor — will join Pereyra on stage.

“The Ailey Company has reliably been one of the Celebrity Series’ most popular annual events for the past 55 years,” says Celebrity Series President and Executive Director Gary Dunning.  “Their appearance always brings thought-provoking, socially aware performances and unbridled joy to the city.”

After a program of gold-standard performances by great choreographers and dynamic new compositions by contemporary talents, each Ailey performance closes out with “Revelations.” This 1960 composition, set to the sounds of spirituals, has been seen more globally than any other modern dance work. Even 60 years after its creation, “Revelations” stirs the soul and probes the human condition like none other.

One of the beauties of the Ailey company is its experiential accessibility. Audience members attending for the first time will feel the emotions portrayed just as powerfully as those with deep knowledge of choreographic technique.

“This season overflows with the joy of connections,” says Battle. “Eclectic, surprising, moving connections—between eras, between dancemakers and between people.”

Alvin Ailey, arts, Boch Center Wang Theatre, dance