Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Returns to Detroit

Modified: March 06, 2023 | Story by Biba Adams

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, will return to the Detroit Opera House March 17–19, 2023 during a 22-city North American tour. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, the passionate spirit and extraordinary technique of Ailey’s dancers will be showcased in a diverse repertory of new works and Ailey classics.

Founded in 1958 by Ailey, the 32-member dance troupe has been deemed the premier African American dance performance troupe in the world. Their soul-stirring movement has been seen by more people around the world than any other modern dance work, moving audiences with its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring music, evoking timeless themes of determination, hope, and transcendence.

The annual touring show, Revelations, is reminiscent of the African American experience in the Black Church and how that experience shapes the lives of our culture. Springing from Ailey’s childhood memories of growing up in the south and attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas, Revelations pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of the African American and explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition.
“The amazing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Opera House after a three-year absence,” says Jon Teeuwissen, Detroit Opera’s Artistic Advisor for Dance.

“The program of mixed repertoire will include two new works and conclude with the ever-popular and always enduring Revelations. A cultural treasure beloved by generations of fans, Revelations ‘fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.’

Courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Facebook

One of the most critical aspects of the tour is the commitment of the Ailey Organization to continuing its mission of using dance to engage the public – including young people – through master classes, student performances, and innovative curriculum-based residencies for public school students.

Ailey II, Ailey’s second company of emerging young dancers, combines a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs. Led by Francesca Harper – a dancer, choreographer, director, professor and “Ailey baby” who trained at The Ailey School, where her mother, Denise Jefferson, worked as director for 26 years – the troupe will offer workshops and school visits with Detroit public school students during the week of February 28.

Further, Ailey Extension exemplifies Alvin Ailey’s belief that dance is for everybody by offering a wide variety of “real classes for real people” of all ages and experience levels. On Saturday, March 4, and Sunday, March 5, all local dance lovers are invited to get a taste of what it’s like to take in-person classes with top New York City instructors, including former Ailey dancers, when the Ailey Experience Tour brings its open-level workshops to the Detroit Opera House. Beginner and experienced dancers ages 9–12 and folks 13 and up can get moving and grooving with Ailey during technique classes and learn the rich history of Ailey’s signature style while learning his classic choreography.

Students participating on both days will be eligible to win a scholarship to Ailey Experience NYC held August 7–11, 2023.

Courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Facebook

On Saturday, March 18, from 11 am–12:30 pm Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents a Modern Technique Master Class for intermediate and advanced level dancers ages 12 and up at the Detroit Opera House, Margo V. Cohen Dance Center. Audiences can join for free with the purchase of an Ailey performance ticket; all others can sign up for $25.

On Friday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m., Detroit audiences will have the unique opportunity to experience acclaimed choreographer Kyle Abraham’s Are You in Your Feelings?, a celebration of Black culture, Black music, and the youthful spirit that perseveres in us all. Scored to a “mixtape” of soul, hip-hop, and R&B featuring music from beloved artists including Jhené Aiko, Drake, Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Jazmine Sullivan, and Summer Walker, the critically applauded work explores the connections among music, communication, and personal memory.

Performances on Saturday, March 18, and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 19 at 2:30 p.m. feature a new production of Survivors (1986), Alvin Ailey’s passionate tribute to the profound courage and terrible anguish of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, which will be seen this season for the first time since 1988. A soundtrack of Max Roach’s richly varied drumming and Abbey Lincoln’s powerful vocals sets the emotional tone for a work that
presents a portrait of people transformed by injustice and uplifts those who resist oppression in any form.

“Detroit audiences eagerly await the return of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater under the leadership of the company’s Artistic Director, Robert Battle,” says Detroit Opera President & CEO Wayne S. Brown. “The upcoming residency marks the fourteenth occasion since the 1997–98 season that our organization has presented this outstanding company. Join us!”

Courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Facebook

Tickets for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Detroit March 17–19 are available online and start at $29. Orders for groups may be placed by emailing

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