NYC is a magical place at the holidays. The lights and displays are glorious and the city is never more full of cheer (and people!). Our family tries to mix culture and charity into the season. I don't want it to be all about CONSUMING and SPENDING. We spent yesterday afternoon at an Alvin Ailey Family Matinee and I'd encourage visitors and locals alike to add this family tradition.
Making More of the Season
When it comes to giving back we participate in the Salvation Army Angel Tree and we started a diaper drive for the Hopeline Community Center in the Bronx. I also live in the greatest city in the world for live performances. Sitting at home and letting the season pass me by isn't an option.
Yes, we love the tree at Rock Center and the Rockettes, but we also love modern dance. For the past ten years my family has been making trips to see Alvin Ailey.
Give the Gift of Memories Not Stuff
I used to go with girlfriends, but now my girls are old enough to go and enjoy this incredible dance company.
When Alvin Ailey started, there wasn't much room in classical dance for African Americans. He made his own space. The first performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater happened in NYC in 1958. That performance changed the face of dance. It gave voice and opportunity to talent never seen.
If your house looks like mine, you don't need more stuff. What you need is time together. Tickets to ANY Alvin Ailey show make a great gift to your family, but the Alvin Ailey Family Matinee is extra special.
Conceived by Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle, the Family Matinee series are all followed by question-and-answer sessions with Ailey’s dancers. On stage, the dancers are god-like and beyond reach, but up close, it makes the performance and the dancers more human and relevant. Who knows, it might even inspire the next generation of Ailey dancers!
The Alvin Ailey Family Matinee Performance
We saw four dances at our show. It started off with the jazzy The Winter in Lisbon choreographed by Billy Wilson with music by Charles Fishman and Dizzy Gillespie. My 9 year old daughter is a fan of jazz. She loved the bold bright costumes and exuberant score. This is a joyous series that really drew her in.
Night creatures, unlike stars, do not come OUT at night - they come ON, each thinking that before the night is out he or she will be the star." -- Duke Ellington
Next we saw Night Creature (by Alvin Aily) featuring the alluring Rachael McLaren. McLaren flirted with the audience and her sinuous movements lit up the stage. A total crowd pleaser, this series featured Duke Ellington's music and wonderful costumes.
Akua Noni Parker made the 1971 Cry come alive. It's a rapturous dance that might require a bit of explaining to your younger kids. That's the awesomeness of art. It makes us think and feel and leave our own skin for a bit. After the dance, I chatted with my daughter that Noni Parker was showing us all the feelings of being a black woman in the American experience. It was a heady conversation, and one of the many reasons I take my white children to see Alvin Ailey. I need her to look at experiences of others with compassion, interest and intellect.
The program finished with the world-famous 1960, Revelations. This is the dance that gets standing ovations every year. It's a spiritual dance that goes through all the emotional range from despair to joy. Considered Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece, my girl could barely stay in her seat to watch it.
Favorites included Sinner Man (look for jumps) and the mesmerizing duet, Fix Me, Jesus with Ghrai DeVore and Jeroboam Bozeman (don't try those moves at home!).
Get your Tickets to the Alvin Ailey Family Matinee
The 2017 Family Matinees are every Saturday (December 23 and 30) at 2pm. Head to CityCenter to get tickets.
Each holiday the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes to NYC's New York City Center. If you miss this year, mark your calendars for 2018. The performances run from late November 29 until the end of December. Putting a dance performance on our calendar has become a joyous holiday tradition.
This Alvin Ailey Family Matinee feature is not sponsored. The non-profit group sent me press tickets to help promote this wonderful organization.
Photo credits: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's Night Creature. Photo by Gert Krautbauer