Thursday, 7:30pm | Friday, 8pm | Saturday, 2pm and 8pm | Sunday, 3pm

Boston Premieres and New Productions Touch on Timely Social Issues and Celebrate Jazz Legends’ Centennials

Lawrence, Mass. Native Belen Pereyra Returns to Boston in Her Sixth Season with Company

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Michael Kennedy or Lauren Hiznay, Goodman Media/Boston
(781) 874-1803 or (212) 576-2700,

BOSTON — March 15, 2017 — Celebrity Series of Boston presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from April 27-30, 2017 at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont Street in Boston. The renowned company brings together an array of timely Boston premieres and new productions that shine a light on current social issues.  Each performance in the run is anchored by Alvin Ailey’s classic masterpiece, Revelations. Program highlights include:

Boston debuts of timely world premiere works:

  • Ailey dancer Hope Boykin’s r-Evolution, Dream. (2016), inspired by the speeches and sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with new music by Ali Jackson (Jazz at Lincoln Center), as well as historical and original writings narrated by Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton); and
  • Untitled America (2016), by MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship winner Kyle Abraham, spotlights the impact of the prison system on African-American families.

Productions celebrating jazz legends on their birth centennials:

  • The 2016 company premiere Ella by Artistic Director Robert Battle (2008), an irresistible tour-de-force duet set to Ella Fitzgerald’s virtuosic scatting in the song “Airmail Special”; and
  • A new production of Billy Wilson’s The Winter in Lisbon (1992) pays tribute to consummate jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie. 

World and company premieres by international choreographers:

  • Deep (2016), an elegant ensemble work by Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, set to songs by rising global music stars Ibeyi, the twin sisters featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album; and
  • Johan Inger’s heart-stopping company premiere, Walking Mad (2001), a daring, humorous and poignant take on Maurice Ravel’s Boléro that imaginatively employs a movable wall.

Audiences also have the opportunity to experience returning favorites After the Rain Pas de Deux (2005) by An American in Paris, A New Musical director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, and Alvin Ailey’s must-see signature piece Revelations (1960), which caps each program during the five show run.  A full performance schedule is below.

This engagement marks the 46th presentation of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by the Celebrity Series, reinforcing a long history that the non-profit producer and Boston audiences have with the company. Alvin Ailey was first presented by Celebrity Series in 1968 and has appeared annually except for three years.

Several works within the engagement, including the Boston premieres, showcase acclaimed dancer Belen Pereyra, who was raised in Lawrence, Mass., trained at Boston Arts Academy, and has returned to the area the past several years with Ailey colleagues to lead master classes and workshops for local students. In her sixth year with Alvin Ailey, Belen continues to gain attention for her standout performances, including central roles in Revelations.

“I am thrilled about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s return to Boston for five breathtaking programs,” said Artistic Director Robert Battle. “Ailey’s powerful legacy lives on as these incomparable dancers bring to life premieres that hold up a mirror to society, including Hope Boykin’s r-Evolution, Dream., and Kyle Abraham’s Untitled America. We’ll also celebrate jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie during their centennials. And of course, I am excited for audiences new and returning to be uplifted by Revelations, a true American treasure.”

“Whether you’ve seen Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater one time or several dozen times, it’s always an extraordinary experience,” said Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director, Celebrity Series of Boston.“Now more than ever, the communal spirit of an Ailey performance is something everyone should experience. This year’s repertory underscores the unique role artists can play in initiating and continuing dialogues about social, cultural and political topics.”

Tickets to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater start at $35, and are available online at, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787, or at the Boch Center Wang Theatre box office at 270 Tremont Street, Boston, MA.

Programs by performance:

Thursday, April 27, 7:30pm
Deep^* (Mauro Bigonzetti, 2016)
Walking Mad* (Johan Inger, 2001)
Ella* (Robert Battle, 2008)
Revelations (Alvin Ailey, 1960)

Friday, April 28, 8pm
The Winter In Lisbon (Billy Wilson, 1992)
Untitled America^* (Kyle Abraham, 2016)
After the Rain Pas de Deux (C. Wheeldon, 2005)
Revelations (Alvin Ailey, 1960)

Saturday, April 29, 2pm
The Winter In Lisbon (Billy Wilson, 1992)
r-Evolution, Dream.^* (Hope Boykin, 2016)
After the Rain Pas de Deux (C. Wheeldon, 2005)
Revelations (Alvin Ailey, 1960) 

Saturday, April 29, 8pm
Deep^* (Mauro Bigonzetti, 2016)
Walking Mad* (Johan Inger, 2001)
Ella* (Robert Battle, 2008)
Revelations (Alvin Ailey, 1960)

Sunday, April 30, 3pm
The Winter In Lisbon (Billy Wilson, 1992)
r-Evolution, Dream.^* (Hope Boykin, 2016)
After the Rain Pas de Deux (C. Wheeldon, 2005)
Revelations (Alvin Ailey, 1960)

*Alvin Ailey Boston premiere
^Alvin Ailey Company premiere 2016

REPERTOIRE INFORMATION (click links for more information):

2016 World Premieres (2017 Boston Premieres)

Choreography: Mauro Bigonzetti
Music: Ibeyi

Mauro Bigonzetti’s elegant and soulful work is set to songs by Ibeyi, twin sisters and rising global music stars who sing in English and Yoruba. Last at Ailey with 2008’s Festa Barocca, Bigonzetti is known for his seamless integration of classical and modern techniques, and has been praised for bringing a fresh and inventive sensibility to his work.

r-Evolution, Dream.
Choreography: Hope Boykin
Music: Ali Jackson

Veteran Company member Hope Boykin was inspired by the sermons and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to create r-Evolution, Dream. She immersed herself in this historical material during a visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, on a previous Ailey U.S. tour. Convinced of the timely relevance of the messages, she staged the large ensemble work that melds creative storytelling, new music composed by drummer Ali Jackson (Jazz at Lincoln Center), as well as historic and original writings narrated by Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton).

Untitled America
Choreography: Kyle Abraham
Music: Laura Mvula, Raime, Carsten Nicolai, Kris Bowers, and Traditional

In this haunting three-part suite, MacArthur “Genius” award winner Kyle Abraham shines a light on the impact of the prison system on African-American families. Developed over three seasons, the work features spoken word interviews from prisoners and others affected by incarceration. Laura Mvula’s touching “Father, Father,” the traditional spiritual “No More My Lord,” contemporary music by Raime, and other musical compositions underscore Abraham’s distinctive movement style and signature avant-garde aesthetic.

Company Premieres

Ella (2008)
Choreography: Robert Battle
Music: Ella Fitzgerald

Created as a solo piece, this high-energy comical dance was reinvented as a duet by the Ailey company for its December 2016 Opening Night Gala benefit, and in anticipation of the legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial birthday celebration in April 2017. Using a live concert recording of Fitzgerald performing the song “Airmail Special,” Ella matches the iconic singer’s virtuosic scatting with lightning-fast movement in an irresistible tour-de-force that leaves audiences (and the dancers) breathless.

Walking Mad (2001)
Choreography: Johan Inger
Music: Maurice Ravel, Arvo Pärt

Revered Swedish choreographer Johan Inger’s Walking Mad is his first work in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s repertory. Set to the driving sounds of Ravel’s much-loved Boléro and music by minimalist master Arvo Pärt, the rousing 28-minute work for 9 dancers grips audiences, bringing waves of emotion – first laughter, then tears. Full of wit and laced with an unsettling edge of madness, the piece employs a long, movable wall that can also be viewed as a symbol of the barriers people construct in their relationships.

New Productions

The Winter in Lisbon (1992)
Choreography: Billy Wilson
Music: Dizzy Gillespie

The Winter in Lisbon is a sizzling, sensuous ballet celebrating four decades of Dizzy Gillespie’s brilliant music. Choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1992 by Billy Wilson, the work pays tribute to Gillespie creating an atmosphere in which the dancers challenge, tease and romance against a backdrop of rhythm and color. Wilson’s exuberant, playful ballet was conceived in celebration of Gillespie’s birthday after Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison was approached by the musician’s management to create a dance to his music. Confident in Wilson’s ability to blend his eclectic ballet and modern dance training with the boisterous sound of Gillespie’s music, Jamison commissioned him to bring the project to life.

Returning Favorites and Ailey Classics

After the Rain Pas de Deux (2005)
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Music: Arvo Pärt

An instant hit at New York City Ballet in 2005, Christopher Wheeldon’s dreamlike duet – praised for its sublime simplicity and intricate partnering – is revealed in a fresh light as Ailey dancers make it their own. Set to music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the sensual male-female pas de deux resonates deeply with audiences and was the first work by Wheeldon to enter the Ailey repertory.

Revelations (1960)
Choreography: Alvin Ailey
Music: Traditional Spirituals

More than just a popular dance work, Revelations is a cultural treasure and a uniquely American classic, beloved by generations of fans. Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece uses African-American spirituals to fervently explore the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. Seeing Revelations for the first time – or the hundredth – has been described as a transcendent experience, during which audiences cheer, sing along and dance in their seats from the opening notes of the plaintive “I Been ’Buked” to the rousing “Wade in the Water” and the triumphant finale “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” 

The Celebrity Series of Boston’s Dance Series is sponsored by the Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, the Royal Little Family Foundation and the John S. and Cynthia Reed Foundation.

This engagement is supported by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Tour Sponsor, Bank of America.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 2017 North American Tour is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. The World Premiere of Untitled America is made possible by Denise Littlefield Sobel and Tikkun Olam Foundation, Inc. The creation of Untitled America is supported by commissioning funds from New York City Center. Generous support for Untitled America is also provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The creation of r-Evolution, Dream. is supported by commissioning funds from The Music Center.



About Celebrity Series of Boston
Celebrity Series of Boston was founded in 1938 by pianist and impresario Aaron Richmond. Over the course of its 78-year history, Celebrity Series has presented an array of the world’s greatest performing artists – from orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, and more. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes that excellence and innovation in the performing arts can enrich life experiences, transform lives and build better communities. Through its education initiatives, the Celebrity Series seeks to build in Greater Boston a community in which the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience everywhere –on stage, in school, and at home. For more information on Celebrity Series of Boston, call (617) 482-2595 or visit online at

The Celebrity Series of Boston, Inc. receives generous support from Amy & Joshua Boger, the Barr Foundation, Leslie & Howard Appleby, the Boston Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, the Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC, the Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Deloitte LLP, Donna & Mike Egan, Foley & Lardner LLP, Gabor Garai & Susan Pravda, David & Harriet Griesinger, Zachary Haroutunian and the Garbis & Arminé Barsoumian Charitable Foundation, Paul L. King, the Liberty Mutual Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Joseph McNay, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Eleanor & Frank Pao, The Peabody Foundation, PTC, the Cynthia and John S. Reed Foundation, the Royal Little Family Foundation, the Stifler Family Foundation, Mr. & Mrs. Henri A. Termeer, Michael & Susan Thonis, Tufts Health Plan, Sanjay & Sangeeta Verma, Nancy Richmond Winsten, Anonymous, and many others.

About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” grew from a now‐fabled March 1958 performance in New York that changed forever the perception of American dance. Founded by Alvin Ailey, recent posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor, and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the Company is now led by Robert Battle, whom Judith Jamison chose to succeed her on July 1, 2011. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 25 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents – as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings, and online platforms – promoting the uniqueness of the African‐American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition.

In addition to being the Principal Dance Company of New York City Center, where its performances have become a year‐end tradition, the Ailey company performs annually at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami‐Dade County in Miami, The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark where it is the Principal Resident Affiliate), and appears frequently in other major theaters throughout the United States and the world during extensive yearly tours. The Ailey organization also includes Ailey II (1974), a second performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School (1969), one of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, which brings dance into the classrooms, communities and lives of people of all ages; and The Ailey Extension (2005), a program offering dance and fitness classes to the general public, which began with the opening of Ailey’s permanent home—the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the dance capital of the world—named The Joan Weill Center for Dance, at 55th Street at 9th Avenue in New York City. For more information, visit