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November 28, 2012

Alvin Ailey Opens a New Season

By Ingrid Skjong | Dance


© Andrew Eccles

New York is no stranger to holiday traditions, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which kicked off its annual holiday residency at New York City Center yesterday and continues the run through December 30, is one of them. Bringing an amalgam of debuts and classics this go-around, the troupe has plenty to share.

“The diversity of our repertoire at Alvin Ailey presents a wonderful challenge,” says dancer Alicia Graf Mack. “In any given performance, I can perform movement from classical modern with ballet influences to hip-hop.”

Graf Mack, who performed with Ailey from 2005 to 2008 and rejoined last year, appears in a variety of pieces, including From Before, a blend of African dance and Caribbean accents by Garth Fagan, who choreographed Broadway’s The Lion King, and Petite Mort, the handiwork of European choreographer Jirí Kylián, which depicts a battle of the sexes carried out in ball gowns and done to Mozart. Perennial favorites include an anthology of seminal Ailey works (Love Songs, For Bird—With Love) and the show-stopping Revelations—a survey of African American spirituals as soul-stirring as they come. Graf Mack says she gets to know the troupe’s patriarch, who died in 1989, a little better every time she performs it—a feeling that informs everyone involved.

“I feel extremely blessed and honored to be a part of the legacy of Alvin Ailey,” she explains, “and to contribute to the cultural fabric of New York City during the holiday season. Through December 30; 131 W. 55th St.; 212-581-1212; alvinailey.org.