The Alvin Ailey Dance Company is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. I love the Alvin Ailey company — I saw them multiple times when I was in NYC (thanks to awesome student rush tickets), and when I found out they were making their yearly trek to Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall this week, and they were performing my favorite Ailey piece, Cry, I knew I had to go.
People may be surprised to see that not everyone in the dance company is African-American, and while a lot of the dances are inspired by African dance, their repertory ranges from ballet, modern dance, swing, Latin, to dance of all cultures. So why am I blogging about the Alvin Ailey company on 8Asians? Masazumi Chaya, the Associate Artistic Director of the Ailey company and the company’s second in command. Hand picked by Ailey himself to dance in his company, Chaya embodies the diversity of the Ailey company, and he has continued to be devoted to the Ailey vision — that we are all people first, and black/Asian/whatever later. Chaya celebrates his 35th anniversary with Alvin Ailey last year, as shown in the Youtube video above.
Recently named by U.S. Congress as “Cultural Ambassador to the World“, the Ailey dancers bring dance to audiences around the world, proving that dance should come from the people, and brought to the people — the founder Alvin Ailey’s vision. I think it’s great that an Asian executive is part of this vision; Ailey celebrates dance of everyone, regardless of ethnicity or color. When I first saw them, I was so struck by their performance — it’s as if dancers of every color got together to dance their joys and their sorrows. That’s exactly how it still feels like today when I see Alvin Ailey.
- For tickets for the Berkeley performances going through this weekend, click here. Great for first-timer dance audience members, but quick — they’re almost all sold out. Not in the Bay Area? Check out the rest of their U.S. tour dates & performances.
- Alvin Ailey’s most famous piece, Revelations on Dancing with the Stars last year
- A Youtube clip of my personal favorite Ailey piece, Cry, which Ailey created in dedication to his mother
- The Obama family also enjoyed last month the Alvin Ailey dancers at the Kennedy Center