Current temperature in Boston - 62 °
Get access to a personalized news feed, our newsletter and exclusive discounts on everything from shows to local restaurants, All for free.
Already a member? Sign in.
The Bay State Banner
The Bay State Banner

Trending Articles

Dorchester residents weigh in on Columbia Road redesign

Banner [Virtual] Art Gallery

MIT hackathon explores a role for churches in closing wealth gap


Celebrating 65 years, Ailey breathes new life into past productions

Dance company performs new works and classics at the Wang Theatre May 2–5

Mandile Mpofu
Celebrating 65 years, Ailey breathes new life into past productions
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performing the Alvin Ailey classic “Revelations.” PHOTO: PAUL KOLNIK

Banner Arts & Culture Sponsored by Cruz Companies


The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Boston this week as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston, the nonprofit presenting performing arts and artists in venues across the Greater Boston area.

Running from May 2-5 at the Boch Center Wang Theater downtown, the dance performances will introduce audiences to premieres by Amy Hall Garner and Jamar Roberts, celebrate Alvin Ailey’s extensive repertoire with the classics, and bring the past into the present with restagings of works by Alonzo King and Ronald K. Brown.

“[Alvin Ailey is] a national treasure that I believe the Boston audiences love,” said Brown, artistic director and founder of New York-based EVIDENCE, A Dance Company, adding that this season, “the repertory they bring on tour is not going to disappoint anyone.”

In 2009, the Ailey company performed Brown’s “Dancing Spirit,” an ode to Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison and a lively evocation of ancestral spirits. This season, the piece will see a renaissance, as the company restages it for the first time in 15 years.

Brown called founder Alvin Ailey’s legacy “a beacon of light and possibility,” lauding him for his decision to center the stories of Black people “on the world stage for everyone to hear and see.” He added that it is “humbling” for “Dancing Spirit” to still be relevant after all these years.

While “Dancing Spirit” will stay true to its original message of celebrating Jamison and her legacy, Brown said that this time, it will do so with much more verve: more people on stage calling on the ancestors and more references to Jamison’s dance piece “Cry.”

Ashley Kaylynn Green, who joined Alvin Ailey in 2021 and will be performing in “Dancing Spirit,” said she and her fellow dancers are “overwhelmingly grateful and honored to be a part of such a staple to so many people in the arts” and to be celebrating 65 years of Ailey-created productions.

“What I love about the Ailey company is being around so many Black and brown bodies trying to deliver a message … while still keeping the legacy and integrity of Mr. Ailey and all that he worked for,” said Green. The dancer noted that it is “really beautiful that we can be part of a legacy that continues to grow, continues to strive, and be a pillar in the dance community and around the world.”

Green described Brown’s “Dancing Spirit” as a slow build. It starts quietly before gradually bubbling into a simmer. “And you’re just trying to find yourself in it,” she said, until at the end, the performers become their most “raw, expansive selves” trying to break through the natural world and reach what lies beyond.

After engaging with revived pieces like “Dancing Spirit” or new ones, at the end of each performance, spectators will be treated to a production of “Revelations,” the Ailey classic that premiered in 1960, staging “the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul,” with a mix of African American spirituals, gospel music and the blues, according to the dance company’s website.

Brown said he wants Boston audiences to leave with “hope and faith” after watching the performances, which he described as empowering in a tangible way.

“Hopefully you feel larger than life,” he said, “and so full of God and love that you can do anything.”

Alvin Ailey, Ashley Kaylynn Green, Celebrity Series, dance, Ronald K. Brown