Walter’s World: Pre- Holiday Week of Events

By Walter Rutledge

After an extended weekend of Thanksgiving dinners and robust shopping this week promises to be an eventful prelude to the holiday season. Dance, Opera and Theater abound throughout the city with many outstanding productions taking place in Harlem. These are a few of the must see productions that happen this week.

On Wednesday November 30 The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre begins the first New York season under the direction of Artistic Director Robert Battle. The five-week season will take place at The New York City Center (131 West 55 Street between 6th and 7th Avenues). The company will present a diverse roster of over twenty works; including; a world premiere, three company premieres and two new productions from the repertoire.

The much-anticipated company premiere of Paul Taylor’s classic Arden Court will debut at the opening night gala on Wednesday November 30. The opening night gala is one of the most spectacular events of the holiday season. This year First Lady Michelle Obama will host the evening, which will include a live performance by John Legend. All proceeds go directly to Ailey’s scholarship fund and educational programs for children.

The world premiere of Home will take place on Thursday December 1. The work by Hip Hop choreographer Rennie Harris was inspired by stories, poems and images submitted to the Fight HIV Your Way contest, an initiative of Bristol-Myers Squibb. In a reverent and befitting gesture the work premieres on World AIDS Day.

The week continues with a new production of Ailey’s brilliant plotless ballet Streams, and the company premieres Battle’s Takademe. To see the complete season calendar and to purchase tickets visit www.alvinailey.org.

The Faison Firehouse located at 6 Hancock Place will present Opera Is HOT December Friday 2nd, 8pm, Saturday, December 3rd, 3pm and 8pm and Sunday, December 4th, 3pm. The four concerts will introduce Harlem Opera Theater Vocal Competition Winners, Jasmine Thomas, soprano, Flora Mendoza, mezzo-soprano, Patrick Dailey, counter-tenor, and Barry L. Robinson, baritone to the public. The program will also include guest performances by Robert Mack, tenor of the Metropolitan Opera, Phillip Boykin, the acclaimed Crown in the upcoming Broadway production of Porgy and Bess, and Richard Bellazin.

Opera Is HOT is conceived and staged by Tony Award winner George Faison, who has recreated an aura of self-discovery and determination reminiscent of the Harlem Renaissance. The historical prospective will blend the talents of these gifted young stars of tomorrow into a new creative production that will serve as a preview of future presentations of up and coming opera singers. This artistic philanthropy is in keeping with the now eleven-year Faison Firehouse mission to “reclaim restore and rebuild our youth and our community through dance, music, art and theater.”

What is this?

Arias by Donizetti, Puccini, Mozart, Bizet and Gershwin will be performed, and the repertoire will also include Negro Spirituals and works by African-American Composers Hal Johnson and Nathaniel Dett. In addition poetry from renowned African-American writers and dance will be interwoven throughout the program. Brian Whitted, Faison Firehouse Theater Musical Director will provide the piano accompaniment. Tickets can be purchased on line at www.faisonfirehouse.org and for reservations call 212-665-7698, or e-mail at faisonfirehouse.org.

The Uptown Dance Academy, under the direction of founder Robin Williams, returns to the world famous Apollo Theater on Friday December 2 with a new production entitled Holiday Extravaganza. The new work is a holiday revue, which promises something for everybody. The production features dance tributes to Chanukah, the Nativity Story, Santa Claus, the Nutcracker, and Kwanzaa.

Guest artist American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland will reprise her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Copeland has been acknowledged as the first African-American female soloist with the American Ballet Theatre. In unique collaboration dancers from the Dance Theater of Harlem’s Professional Training Program will also perform. Tickets can purchased at; the Apollo Theater Box Office, Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000
and online by visiting Ticketmaster.com.

Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company will present a performance/ fundraiser on Saturday December 3, 7:30 pm at the Ailey Studios, 55th street and 9th Avenue. The event is a prelude to the 40th Annersary season beginning in 2012. The program includes Eleo Pomare’s Tabernacle, inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and excerpts of Enrique Cruz DeJesus’ Crossroads to Hathaway, an retrospect of short stories and testimonials reflecting the soulful music of Donny Hathaway. For more information about tickets or to send your rsvp call 212- 749- 0095 or at info@alphaomegadance.org.

In Photos 1)Kirven James Boyd 2) cast Home 3) Yanick Lebrun 4) Jasmine Thomas 5) Misty Copeland 6) Alpha Omega company

Photo credits 1,2,3) Andrew Eccles 5) Gene Schiavone 4&6) James Alexander

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