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Alvin Ailey

By Grace Landefeld

In NYC Media’s new video series “A Day’s Work,” viewers get to see what New Yorkers' lives are really like. Season 1 is dedicated to jobs in the arts and entertainment industry, and episode 2 features three people who work at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

This episode follows dancer Hope Boykin, physical therapist Shaw Bronner, and lighting director Al Crawford, as they each go about their day with the Ailey company. NYC Media prefaces the Ailey stories by explaining that, for those in the world of dance, “your job is more than just a paycheck; it’s a way of life.”

Viewers will see that there’s more to it than simply the performances. As the camera follows Boykin from physical therapy to multiple rehearsals, she explains, “It’s a bit of a misconception what a professional dancer is. People don’t realize that it’s not just the glory of it, you have to put in the work. We are athletes.” Bronner is shown tending to injured dancers and teaching anatomy and physiology classes for students in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program. Throughout her day, she discusses the growing field of dance physical therapy. Lastly, Crawford shows what it’s like to work on the production side of dance. He travels with the Company, re-sets the lighting plot for each new theater, works with the choreographers, sits in on rehearsals, maintains the archive of lighting designs, and so much more.

Watch the full episode here.

On March 30, 1958, the dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) launched his company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, at a performance in New York City that forever changed the face of American dance. He was 27 years old.

In honor of the Company’s 60th anniversary, Matthew Rushing – a 25-year veteran of the Ailey company— performed the iconic solo “I Wanna Be Ready” from Mr. Ailey’s classic work, Revelations. Filmed in Rogers, Texas, where Mr. Ailey was born and lived as a young child, Mr. Rushing’s performance features live accompaniment by five local singers.

Mr. Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the African-American cultural heritage, “sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” Revelations is a tribute to that tradition, born out of the choreographer’s “blood memories” from his early childhood.

As Jennifer Dunning wrote in her biography Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance, “Sunday mornings were spent in fervent song and prayer at the tiny Mount Olive Baptist Church on a dusty, unpaved road across from the railroad tracks. The one-room, white-frame building is one of the few landmarks of Alvin’s childhood still standing in Rogers.”

Like Mr. Ailey’s enduring masterpiece Revelations, the company he started six decades ago is more than just popular; it has become a cultural treasure, beloved by generations of fans.

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is pleased to announce Rue Montorgueil, a joyful film-short that captures a spectacular chain reaction of dance along the bustling street Rue Montorgueil in Paris.

This video launches a year-long video series that will highlight dancers from different parts of the Ailey organization in collaboration with French choreographer and director Redha Medjellekh.

For Rue Montorgueil, Medjellekh said “I wanted to illustrate that no matter what your gender, nationality, or age, we can communicate and share a common thread through dance – it’s a universal language. Recorded on Paris’ Rue Montorgueil in a one-shot take, we sought to create a chain reaction, from person to person, on one of Paris’ busiest and most well-known streets, so the viewer feels a part of the frenetic energy.”

The goal of the series is to showcase dance that works in a digital medium in order to make dance accessible to everyone, everywhere, at any moment. The project brings Alvin Ailey’s belief that “dance came from the people and should always be delivered back to the people” to life in today’s digital first world.

In this first video of the series, Ailey company members Solomon Dumas, Jacquelin Harris, Ashley Mayeux, Michael Francis McBride, Samuel Lee Roberts, and Constance Stamatiou are joined by the Krumper Noscript, B-Boy Reemcat, rhythmic gymnast Natalie Fauquette, and Claudette, a seasoned amateur and long time Ailey admirer.

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Redha Medjellekh has created multiple viral dance videos that not only speak to the dance community at large but to a wider audience. He specializes in telling stories with dance and bringing exquisite choreography to life on the street and in other unusual settings. His work is about the beauty of the dance and the message behind it. Medjellekh believes that dance should be accessible to everyone, everywhere, at any hour of the day. He wants the audience to be enraptured, not only by the beauty of the gesture itself, but the meaning behind it. 

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