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On December 1st, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returned to the stage at the New York City Center to kick-off its three-week 2021 homecoming season with an opening night gala benefit and star-studded dinner party at the Ziegfeld Ballroom.

The theme of the #ReunitedWeDance evening was "honoring our audience, our inspiration." The Company came together to perform the impressive duet Ella by Robert Battle, who is celebrating his 10-year anniversary as artistic director. The dancers were accompanied by the live music of Grammy Award-nominated vocalist Jazzmeia Horn. Additional performances included Love Stories, which portrays "a luminous future built on the lessons and legacy of the past," and Alvin Ailey's signature masterpiece Revelations. Also, the students from The Ailey School joined award-winning dancer and Assistant Rehearsal Director Clifton Brown on-stage to demonstrate their talents in Bird Lives!, an excerpt from Alvin Ailey’s dance tribute to jazz legend Charlie “Bird” Parker. 

Afterwards, Battle — who received the prestigious 2021 Dance Magazine Award for the artistry, integrity, and resiliency demonstrated over the course of his career a few days later — and 450 guests enjoyed a night of dinner and dancing to the live music of Élan Artists at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. The gala benefit, which was chaired by Emily and Len Blavatnik; Paulette Mullings Bradnock and Howard Bradnock; Daria L. and Eric J. Wallach; Joan and Sandy Weill; Pamela D. Zilly and John H. Schaefer; and vice chairs Jill and Gunther Bright and Anthony A. Lewis, raised $1.7 million to support the creation of new works at the Company, scholarships to The Ailey School, and Ailey's educational programs for children.

Special guests included Dario Calmese, gymnast Nia Dennis, Jillian Hervey (Lion Babe), Sunny Hostin, Freddie Jackson, Harry Lennix, Ally Love, Julia Stiles, Pose’s Ryan Jamaal Swain, Lorraine Toussaint, Danielle Moné Truitt (Law & Order: Organized Crime), Jamila Wignot (director of the documentary AILEY), Larry Wilmore, Ricardo A. Zayas (West Side Story), and many more.

The New York City Center engagement will culminate on Dec. 19th and will feature two premieres, four new productions, and a variety of returning favorites, classics, and special programs. From January to May 2022, the Company will embark on a national tour from coast to coast.