Alvin Ailey for all
Online programs bring Ailey classes and performances home
The Alvin Ailey stage is dark this May, but the new online initiative Ailey All Access brings the famous company and its joyful dances into living rooms all over the country. The platform provides full-length streaming performances, dance classes you can take from home and regular interviews with the company members.
Every Thursday at 7 p.m., social distancers can tune in to an Alvin Ailey performance online, in place of the live tour shows that would otherwise be occurring. On Thursday, May 14, the series will feature Artistic Director Robert Battle’s “Mass.” Camille Brown’s “City of Rain” will air on May 21.
For those who prefer active engagement, Ailey All Access offers both dance classes, from ballet to Vogueing, and fitness classes that utilize dance techniques, for example, Zumba and a Ballet Barre-style fitness routine. The Afro-Cuban Modern class with Noibis Licea every Sunday celebrates a rarely seen form of modern dance as well as the heritage that inspired it. Classes are offered at all age and skill levels. The cost is $12 per class with package deals available, and the sessions are streamed via Zoom.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m., viewers can tune in to Instagram Live to see “Conversations With,” chats among the dancers about how they got their start in the company and what inspires them. The interviews, which feel more like casual Zoom catch-ups between friends, reveal the challenges the dancers have faced and bring the performers to a more accessible level than their seemingly mythic presences on stage. After the live stream, the sessions are available to watch on the Alvin Ailey YouTube channel.
Last Wednesday, May 6, Hope Boykin interviewed company member and Lawrence native Belén Indhira Pereyra as part of the series. Pereyra credits her early years studying dance in Lawrence, at Boston Arts Academy and with OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center with not only igniting in her the love of dance but also preserving her connection to her Dominican Republic heritage. She was able to study dances from all over the world, surrounded by other students of color, a unique experience in the dance world and an ideal training ground for her eventual role at Alvin Ailey.
Despite being apart from the other dancers during what they call this “intermission,” Pereyra says she’s using the time to recharge. She says, “I’ve never had this opportunity to get to know myself, and I’ve loved it.” And perhaps another ambitious young dancer will see Pereyra’s interview or take an Ailey Zoom class and be lit with the same fire.