Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will kick-off a five-week New York season on November 30th with a star-studded gala benefit at New York City Center that begins an exciting new era led by Artistic Director Robert Battle. Honorary Chairs for the special evening are First Lady Michelle Obama and the legendary model Iman.

Nine-time Grammy Award-winner John Legend will join Ailey’s Alicia Graf Mack in an exclusive live performance of “If It’s Magic,” choreographed by Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison to the timeless music of Stevie Wonder. Legend, a long-time Ailey fan, stated, “Like millions of others, I’ve always been moved by Ailey’s performances and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of bringing this touching dance to life through the music of one my greatest inspirations, Stevie Wonder.”

Attendees will also enjoy the company premiere of modern dance master Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, a one-night-only performance of Lar Lubovitch’s duet Prelude to a Kiss, and Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations, with live music and a cast of 50. “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is not only one of the world’s most popular dance companies, but a cultural treasure that renews your spirit with each performance,” said Iman, one of the evening’s Honorary Chairs. “I can’t wait to see the curtain go up on Ailey’s extraordinary dancers and share in a moment of true revelry.”

The benefit will honor Kimberly B. Davis, President of The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, for all of J.P. Morgan’s wonderful support of Ailey’s educational and community programs over the years. The event’s co-chairs are Simin & Herb Allison, Kathryn & Kenneth Chenault, Agnes & Gerald Hassell, Linda & Sandy Lindenbaum, Sharon C. Taylor and Joan & Sandy Weill.

The 2011-12 season marks an historic moment as Robert Battle takes the helm as only the third Artistic Director in the Company’s 53-year history, following the illustrious Judith Jamison and founder Alvin Ailey himself. “I’m honored by the great responsibility to lead this magnificent Company,” Robert Battle said. “The Gala Benefit is the perfect opportunity to support and celebrate Ailey’s vital legacy as we begin to journey in exciting new directions.”

Proceeds from the Gala will benefit Ailey’s educational programs, including scholarships and innovative outreach programs. For benefit tickets to the gala performance and dinner-dance in the Hilton New York Grand Ballroom, attended by prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy and politics, please call (212) 405-9031. For a schedule of the performances through January 1st, or for tickets, starting at $25, visit www.alvinailey.org, call CityTix (212-581-1212), or visit the New York City Center box office.

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, 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 23 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition. 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.

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