Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2018 Lincoln Center engagement continued last night with the star-studded Ailey Spirit Gala.
The evening honored Vikas Kapoor and Ailey Trustee Jaishri Kapoor for their remarkable support of the Ailey organization and their dedication to Ailey’s educational initiatives. Gala Co-Chairs were Stephen Meringoff & Kim Charlton, Almaz & Marc S. Strachan, and Daria L. & Eric. J. Wallach; and Vice Chairs were Michele & Timothy Barakett, Robyn & N. Anthony Coles, Leslie & Tom Maheras, and Pamela D. Zilly & John H. Schaefer.
The one-night-only benefit performance and party featured Honorary Chair Jussie Smollett, who stars on Fox’s Empire and recently released his debut album, Sum of My Music.
Over $1 million was raised to support Ailey’s extensive educational and training programs for young people, including AileyCamp and scholarships to The Ailey School.
A “Celebrating Revelations” participatory workshop on Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza got things started with the public dancing Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece taught by Nasha Thomas, National Director of AileyCamp and former Company dancer. This special event coincided with NYC Pride and launched Ailey’s celebration of NYC Dance Week, a citywide festival from June 14-23, with over 30 free classes offered at Ailey Extension for first-time students.
Afterwards, guests enjoyed performances by all parts of the Ailey organization, including AileyCamp in a work by instructor Jonathan Lee and Ailey II’s Marcus Williams, dedicated to hip-hop legend Prodigy of Mobb Deep and in honor of the program’s 30th year; gifted young dancers from The Ailey School showcasing their talents in Robert Battle’s Battlefield; rising stars of Ailey II in an excerpt of Juel D. Lane’s Touch & Agree; and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in an excerpt of Jamar Roberts’ Members Don’t Get Weary and a memorable finale of Revelations.
After the performance, Ailey’s Board of Trustees and more than 800 guests joined for a soiree on the promenade with musical stylings from deejay to the stars DJ M.O.S.
In attendance were prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy, and politics attended the gala, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, choreographer Jessica Lang, Kennedy Center honoree Carmen de Lavallade, Ailey Board President and former Chairman and CEO of BET Networks Debra L. Lee, CNN anchor Don Lemon, model Damaris Lewis, fashion designer and stylist B Michael, New York State Council on the Arts chair Katherine Nicholls, film legend Cicely Tyson, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, The Breakfast Club host Angela Yee, and Urban Bush Woman founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.