2016 Ailey Spirit Gala Benefit’s Star-Studded Party and Performance Launches Two-Week  Lincoln Center Engagement
Ailey II with Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell. Photo by Pete Monsanto
Ailey II with Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell. Photo by Pete Monsanto

Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2016 Lincoln Center engagement kicked off with a star-studded Ailey Spirit Gala on Wednesday, June 8th. The one-night-only benefit performance and party, sponsored by FedEx, featured actor Anthony Anderson of black-ish and Barbershop: The Next Cut and journalist Roland S. Martin of TV One and the Tom Joyner Morning Show as Honorary Chairs. Gala Co-Chairs were Gina F. Adams, Lynne & Anthony M. Carvette, Leslie & Tom Maheras, Almaz & Marc S. Strachan and Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach, and Vice Chairs were Michele & Timothy Barakett, Dr. N. Anthony & Robyn Coles, Jaishri & Vikas Kapoor, and Pamela D. Zilly & John H. Schaefer. The evening helped raise over $1 million for Ailey’s extensive educational programs for young people, including AileyCamp and scholarships to The Ailey School.

The Ailey Spirit Gala featured performances by several parts of the Ailey organization. The world-renowned Ailey dancers performed in excerpts of Alvin Ailey’s Cry and Robert Battle’s Awakening. The rising stars of Ailey II performed Ray Mercer’s Something Tangible, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School (ages 6 to 23) showcased their talents and the breadth of the program’s training in Concurrence, and talented students from AileyCamp performed a work inspired by Talley Beatty’s The Stack-up. An expanded cast of the present and future stars of Ailey came together for a memorable finale of Alvin Ailey’s timeless Revelations.

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Prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy, and politics attended the Gala, including actress Khandi Alexander, musicians Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman of Lion Babe, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste, legendary dancer and actress Carmen de Lavallade, model Damaris Lewis, actress Phylicia Rashad, stage and screen legend Cicely Tyson, and The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams. After the performance, the celebration continued at the soirée on the promenade. Ailey’s Board of Trustees, including Chair Daria L. Wallach and President Debra L. Lee, Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, and more than 750 guests joined in dinner and dancing with the Company to the musical stylings of deejay to the starts, DJ M.O.S.

Ailey’s Lincoln Center engagement continues through June 19th, and features the world premieres of MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham’s Untitled America: Second Movement on June 9th and Mauro Bigonzetti’s Deep on June 10th. New Company members Ashley Mayeux and Solomon Dumas, and returning dancer Constance Stamatiou join in time for this diverse season of over a dozen works on five different programs. For the comprehensive season press release, with details on the repertory, new dancers, Saturday Family Matinee performances, and the “Ticket to Dance” Ailey Extension free class offer, click here.

Latoya Henry is the publisher and founder of Haute Giving: The Sexy Side of Philanthropy.
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