Robert Battle

Biography

Robert Battle became artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in July 2011 after being personally selected by Judith Jamison, making him only the third person to head the Company since it was founded in 1958. Mr. Battle has a long-standing association with the Ailey organization.

A frequent choreographer and artist-in-residence at Ailey since 1999, he has set many of his works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II, and at The Ailey School. The Company’s current repertory includes his ballets No Longer Silent and Awakening. In addition to expanding the Ailey repertory with works by artists as diverse as Kyle Abraham, Aszure Barton, Ronald K. Brown, Ronnie Harris, Matthew Rushing, Hofesh Shechter, Paul Taylor, and Christopher Wheeldon, Mr. Battle has also instituted the New Directions Choreography Lab to help develop the next generation of choreographers. Mr. Battle’s journey to the top of the modern dance world began in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, Florida. He showed artistic talent early and studied dance at a high school arts magnet program before moving on to Miami’s New World School of the Arts, under the direction of Daniel Lewis and Gerri Houlihan, and finally to the dance program at The Juilliard School, under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, where he met his mentor, Carolyn Adams. He danced with The Parsons Dance Company from 1994 to 2001, and also set his choreography on that company starting in 1998. Mr. Battle then founded his own Battleworks Dance Company, which made its debut in 2002 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as the U.S. representative to the World Dance Alliance’s Global Assembly. Battleworks subsequently performed extensively at venues, including The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, American Dance Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

Mr. Battle was honored as one of the “Masters of African-American Choreography” by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005, and he received the prestigious Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in 2007. . In 2014 he received an honorary doctorate from The University of the Arts. Most recently Mr. Battle was named a 2015 Visiting Fellow for The Art of Change, an initiative by the Ford Foundation. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and has addressed a number of high-profile organizations, including the United Nations Leaders Programme and the UNICEF Senior Leadership Development Programme.

News & Press

You probably danced on your way into work this morning. Every move you made, down to the rhythm of your steps, had a potential story to tell.
Whatever you may say about Robert Battle's new "Awakening," you can be sure that it resembles little else in the repertoire of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which opened its annual Berkeley residency Tuesday, March 29, at UC's Zellerbach Hall. That is the first dance Battle has made for the company since he became artistic director five years ago may have something to do with it.
Robert Battle, artistic director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, explains why it was important for him to come back home to Liberty City to teach a master class to aspiring dancers of Miami's Northwestern High School.
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Video

June 2015 interview with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's artistic director, Robert Battle

Footage from the "Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance" film series. For more information, please visit lincolncenteratthemovies.org/productions/alvin-ailey-american-dance-theater

FOX 5's Zachary Kiesch interviews Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Artistic Director Robert Battle about the world premiere of his new piece, Awakening. 

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