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Meet Executive Director Bennett Rink

Posted June 5, 2023

Over his 30 years with the Ailey organization, and as Executive Director since 2013, Bennett Rink has been guided by Alvin Ailey’s own words: to give dance back to the people.  

Mr. Rink, who is celebrating his tenth year in the position, directs all aspects of Ailey’s operations and strategy. He leads an experienced executive team in budgeting, finance, marketing, sales, and development to support the work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, The Ailey School, Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs, and Ailey Extension. He also maintains a strong relationship with its 32-member Board of Trustees to ensure the organization’s growth and longevity. But perhaps his most significant responsibility is the one he shares with the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, that of carrying the legacy of Alvin Ailey. “That legacy work is crucial. The Company is in its sixth decade and for more than half of that time, it’s been without our founder. We must keep his voice present to stay true to our core mission and values,” Mr. Rink declares. 

We must keep his voice present to stay true to our core mission and values.

Exec. Dir. Bennett Rink, Elaine Wynn, Art. Dir. Robert Battle, Board members, govt. officials, bldg. architects and AAADT dancers. Photo by Duggan

Bennett Rink with Elaine Wynn, Robert Battle, and members of the Board. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

While he did not have the opportunity to personally meet Alvin Ailey, Mr. Rink has had the good fortune to work with many people who did interact with the legend, who all have the same goal of preserving and furthering Mr. Ailey’s presence for current and future generations.  

“There’s the innovative work we’ve done to preserve Mr. Ailey’s choreography digitally and to create more educational tools, so all understand the history of the company,” says Mr. Rink. “There is Mr. Battle’s cultivation of new works from contemporary choreographers while continuing to showcase the genius of Mr. Ailey’s ballets, and the continuation of national and international tours to Africa, Europe, and South America.” 

Ailey Executive Director Bennett Rink and Artistic Director Robert Battle. Photo by Pete Monsanto.

Bennett Rink and Robert Battle, photo by Pete Monsanto.

When asked, Mr. Rink shares that one of his proudest achievements has been focused on education and outreach. “Driven by the needs of The [Ailey] School, we expanded The Joan Weill Center for Dance with the Elaine Wynn & Family Education Wing, expanding the studios and adding classroom space.” This has made it possible for Ailey Extension to increase the number of classes offered to the public and for The School to accept more students and diversify their curriculum.  

Although Mr. Rink has expertly led the organization through unprecedented times during the past few years, he, like the rest of the world, is still grappling with the fiscal, foundational, and emotional effects that the pandemic caused. His top priorities include finding ways to adapt in a changing environment while holding on to the core of what Ailey does, and upholding Ailey’s commitments to the wellbeing of artists, teachers, and staff who fulfill the organization’s mission. Ailey and Mr. Rink are able to meet these priorities by securing vital funding for all parts of the organization from individual patrons, and corporate and foundation sponsors. 

It is clear to me that Ailey still stands due to the talent of our artists, commitment of the staff, our dedication to the mission, and the sustaining support of our donors and funders. I am fortunate to lead such a beloved institution

—Bennett Rink 
Ailey Executive Director Bennett Rink. Photo by Christopher Duggan

Bennett Rink, photo by Christopher Duggan.

In his free time, Mr. Rink enjoys cooking, reading a print edition of The New York Times every morning, and taking care of his dog, Bella, with his husband, David, and their two children, including Violet who is interning with Ailey this spring. A skilled pianist, he often plays a song or two for surprise staff events like the recent celebration of Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison’s 80th birthday. 

Join Mr. Rink & Support Ailey

You can support Ailey’s worldwide cultural efforts alongside Mr. Rink by attending Ailey performances, taking an Ailey Extension class, and through tax-deductible donations. A gift of $10 a month helps Ailey share beloved performances around the world, train the next generation of dance artists, deliver outreach and digital programming across the globe, and so much more. Please consider donating today

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