John Legend & Iman join Ailey

From left, John Legend, Judith Jamison, Robert Battle, Paul Taylor & honoree Kimberly B. Davis.
Photos by Christopher Duggan
Photo by Christopher Duggan

Ailey’s inaugural New York City Center Season led by Artistic Director Robert Battle kicked off on Nov. 30 with an Opening Night Gala Benefit hosted by Honorary Chair Iman. The season ends Jan. 1, 2012.

The night honored Kimberly B. Davis, President of The JPMorgan Chase Foundation and helped raise $2.5 million for Ailey’s programs for children and young people, including AileyCamp and scholarships to The Ailey School.

Battle expressed sincere gratitude to Kimberly B. Davis for her exceptional philanthropic leadership in the broader community and JP Morgan Chase Foundation’s longstanding support of the Ailey Organization.

He welcomed the audience and shared a statement from The First Lady Michelle Obama that saluted Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the company’s role in educating and inspiring the next generation.

Nine-time Grammy Award-winner John Legend and Ailey’s Alicia Graf Mack staged a mesmerizing performance of “If It’s Magic,” choreographed by Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison to the timeless music of Stevie Wonder. The Company debuted Arden Court by Paul Taylor, the first work by the modern dance master ever performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

The sold-out crowd of more than 2,000 audience members also enjoyed a one-night-only performance of Lar Lubovitch’s duet Prelude to a Kiss and an inspiring finale performance Alvin Ailey’s masterwork, Revelations with live music and a cast of 50.

The celebration continued at the gala party in the Hilton New York’s Grand Ballroom with 1,000 guests, including Debra L. Lee, Katie Couric, Joan & Sandy Weill, Henry McGee, Pauletta Washington, Misty Copeland, Cicely Tyson, Jacque Reid, Susan Taylor and Judith Byrd, who joined in dinner and dancing with the stars of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

The excitement continued on Thursday with the world premiere of Home, Ailey’s new work by hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris. Home, set to a soul-lifting score of gospel house music, is inspired by stories submitted to the “Fight HIV Your Way” contest of people living with or affected by HIV (an initiative of Bristol-Myers Squibb). The premiere commemorated World AIDS Day and the anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s death from the disease 22 years ago.

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