Blog #191 1/19/17
Recently, the New York Times published an article about Robert Battle, the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The article: http://bit.ly/nytalvinailey
I had first met Robert Battle 15 years ago when he danced with The David Parsons Dance Company. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to make photographs of that company, and him, a number of times.
Dancer-choreographer David Parsons holds up his company of talented and athletic dancers; Robert Battle forms the “O.“ Click here to read my blog on Parsons Dance Company.
Parsons and his company of eight dancers; Battle, near top, middle.
Battle reminded me recently of how working on the trampoline in my studio frightened him, initially, clear from these photographs.
He got over it, obviously.
I particularly recall his ability to focus on direction and performance, his seriousness as a professional dancer and his beautiful movement. His elegance, charm and intensity have stayed in my memory from our first meeting.
Battle was with the Parsons Company for seven years, from 1994 until 2001. While performing there, he began to choreograph his own works. Parsons generously (and wisely) included a number of them in his performance repertoire. Battle’s choreography is like none I’ve ever seen. The powerful pounding rhythms he chose challenged the dancers to move constantly and rapidly, to leap to extraordinary heights, and to move, run and turn dynamically, throwing themselves across the stage.
I imagined the dancers out of breath and collapsing in their dressing rooms following any of Battle’s dances. In his work there is never stillness, even for a moment—no dancer on stage stops moving even for a second.
His work evokes rousing, standing, cheering ovations from audiences. From the first time I was in one of those audiences, his work took my breath away, and does so to this day.
An image I made of the Master, David Parsons and the Master-to-be, Robert Battle
In 2001, when Battle left the Parsons Company, he founded his own small troupe, “Battleworks Dance Company.”
From then on, his work attracted delighted attention, and many awards. Among other significant recognitions, in 2005 he was named one of the Masters of African American Choreography by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Then, in what was a crowning honor, he was named Artistic Director of the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. This remarkable achievement has placed Battle at the very pinnacle of the world of dance.
Battle, the Ailey Director
I have photographed dance for over 25 years and have had the joy-filled opportunity to work with dozens of companies and hundreds of professional dancers. For me, there is no company as exciting, breathtaking, and thrilling as Ailey, Robert Battle’s Company and its astonishing dancers.
Ailey dancers; images made in my SOHO studio
Top row: Clifton Brown, Samuel Deshauteurs, Addur Rahim Jackson;
Middle row: Briana Reed, Dwana Smallwood, Linda Celeste Sims;
Bottom row: Matthew Rushing, Glen Sims, Amos Machanic
Whether you’re a dance enthusiast, or simply love to see great talent expressed on stage, to live a full life you must experience performances by Battle’s Alvin Ailey dancers.
Glitterati Incorporated, the publisher of the Retrospective, Schatz Images: 25 Years is now offering the two- book boxed set at a discount from the original price. The set comes with an 11″x14” print of the buyer’s choice.