Dancers from Alvin Ailey in motion. (Courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
Dancers from Alvin Ailey in motion. (Courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)

The powerful and harmonious movements of the Alvin Ailey dancers, from the allusions to prayer to seeing their extraordinary shoulders hunched, continue now through Feb. 10 at the Kennedy Center Opera House for the 60th anniversary performance of the iconic company.

The company brings “Timeless Ailey,” a special program that gives vitality to more than a dozen treasures from the late Ailey’s wonderfully rich body of work, including highlights of seldom-seen gems “Blues Suite,” “Hidden Rites” and “The Lark Ascending,” and perennial favorites “Love Songs,” “Night Creature” and “Cry.” The program concludes with Ailey’s seminal “Revelations.”

The production features a score with songs written by Mary Lou Williams, Brother John Sellers, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie, to name a few.

“This was my first time seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, said Nikita Williamson of District Heights, Maryland. “They were in unison and fabulous.”

While the company’s previous works have tended to be traditional Ailey, the 60th anniversary performance includes “Lazarus,” the brand-new ballet work from hip-hop master Rennie Harris. The combination of “Lazarus” and the “blood memories” of “Revelations” took the well-heeled audience on a journey through African Americans’ often harrowing history of slavery and segregation. 

“‘Revelations’ hits my heart every time,” said Desmond Beach of Silver Spring, Maryland. “It just strikes a chord in me. It’s like the ancestors show up in this space and dance among us every time they perform that.”

The dancers’ stellar performance had many, including this writer, on the edge of their seats, as several rounds of applauses were given by the vast majority of the audience.

“It is a beautiful representation of visual art,” said Brittany Wallace, of Woodbridge, Va., who first saw the company perform at age 4. “The excerpt from ‘Hidden Rights’ with the song ‘Of Love’ was completely amazing with those two. The chemistry between their bodies and their angles, I literally felt it within myself.”

Whoops, nods, waves and the sounds of familiar spiritual songs make you tap your feet, clap your hands, or take you back in time to the 1970s. This is one performance that you don’t want to miss. 

For tickets, go to or call 202-467-4600.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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