Alvin Ailey Brings Robert Battle Home Again

Categories: Dance

Battle describes his work with the company as a "continuum" to what the late founder and Jamison have built. "Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison are icons in the world of dance," he says. He often thinks of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for humanity. "'I have a Dream' spoke to me as a young person and it was something that Alvin Ailey achieved through dance," he says.

"At a time when we were as African-American dancers denied basic human rights, he had the audacity to speak of inclusiveness," says Battle. "Alvin Ailey said that dance was inclusive and represented all people."

The company's works tell stories of humanity from the African-American experience. This is a sacred legacy that Battle upholds, while weaving in fresh, energetic choreographies. His works challenge dancers and audiences alike.

"People leave the theater feeling like they've made a connection," he says, a true testimony that "people's souls need to be fed as much as their mouths."

His style he says is "unpredictable but rooted." It's about continuing to honor the past, celebrating the present and the hope of where you can possibly go. "We're only limited by our own imagination," he says.

Admittedly, his works are physically demanding, says Battle. But he's doing something right. The company started with a record breaking season at its New York City base, City Center. "People came to see performances 9 and 10 times because they are excited about what we are doing," he says.

At the upcoming Arsht center showing, the company will feature "Petite Mort," "Grace," "In/Side" and Ailey's classic must-see "Revelations."

"This is a very powerful season," he says. "The repertoire is so diverse."

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre comes to the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Arsht Center,1300 Biscayne Blvd., from Feb. 21 to 24. Tickets range from $25 to $120, with matinee and evening shows; go to www.arshtcenter.org.

--Kai T. Hill, artburstmiami.com

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