Dancing the 92nd Street Y: A 150th Anniversary Celebration

from Emily MT

The 92nd Street Y, New York (92NY), one of New York’s leading cultural venues, presents Dancing the 92nd Street Y: A 150th Anniversary Celebration, welcoming three legendary companies whose founders made these halls their home — Ailey II, Martha Graham Dance Company, and José Limón Dance Company. Bridging generations of pioneering dance makers, the evening pairs these dance companies with leading contemporary artists — Omar Román De Jesús, Jamar Roberts, and Hope Boykin — for a one-night-only celebration of the legendary choreographers and performers who shaped modern dance, and the stage that first welcomed them. This landmark performance is on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 7:30 pm at the Kaufmann Concert Hall. Tickets start at $30 and are available at https://www.92ny.org/event/dancing-the-92nd-street-y.

Since its inception, The 92nd Street Y has welcomed and supported the leading lights of American contemporary dance, taking risks to nurture artists before anyone knew who they were, providing a space for people of all racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds to develop and present their work, when other doors were closed. 92NY became a place of refuge with the opening of Kaufmann and Buttenwieser Halls, offering open access to dance studios, classes, lectures, poetry readings, and performances. From the Afro-Diasporic roots of Katherine Dunham to the Soviet, Asian, and Caribbean choreographies of Si-lan Chen, 92NY luminaries challenged the emerging modern dance field to incorporate both cultural and national diversity. Dance as a force for belonging was echoed in the concert dance works selected by The Dance Center when it opened its doors in 1934 under the direction of exiled Habima artist Benjamin Zemach. Dr. William Kolodney succeeded Zemach the following year, remaining in his post until 1969.

In celebration of 150 years of dedication to artists and community, 92NY's new exhibition Dance to Belong: A History of Dance at 92NY, will be on view in the Weill Art Gallery from March 12, 2024, until Oct 31, 2024. The exhibition testifies to 92NY as a key site in dance and belonging. Photographs, performance programs, artwork, digital media, rare film footage, and other unseen ephemera render 92NY’s crucial place as a preeminent cultural institution located in the heart of New York City.

This singular exhibition illuminates 92NY’s historical importance as a sanctuary space in which dance history is made. Immigrants, BIPOC, and Jewish dance artists from 1874, when 92NY first opened its doors, to 2024 have made 92NY home. In its early years, 92NY was one of the only places that offered access to dance studios, classes, lectures, and performances for people of all racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds. Co-curated by Jessica Friedman, PhD, and Ninotchka Bennahum, PhD with Jeanne Haffner, PhD of Thinc Design. 

The Milton J. Weill Art Gallery is open to patrons of Kaufmann Concert Hall during regularly scheduled events. Viewing hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3 pm - 5 pm and Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 9 am - 11 am. In addition, special viewing hours can be arranged. 

Dancing the 92nd Street Y: A 150th Anniversary Celebration – Program
5:30 pm – Exhibition Private View, Weill Art Gallery and Hall of Mirrors
6:30 pm – Presentation, Weill Art Gallery
7:30 pm – Performance, Kaufmann Concert Hall

The Limón Dance Company
José Limón’s There is a Time
Premiered in 1956, There is a Time is based on the historic poem from the Bible, Ecclesiastes: "To Everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the Sun." This poem, based on the cycle of universal human experiences, is rich in both ideas and words. The piece is conceived in 12 sections (with a round dance for both Prologue and Finale) and takes its inspiration from that passage in Chapter 3 of “Ecclesiastes” that starts: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Each of the temporal activities mentioned by the Old Testament scribe—”a time to laugh” . . . . “a time to mourn” . . . . “a time to dance.”

Omar Román De Jesús’ Like Those Playground Kids at Midnight
In a world that often seeks to stifle individuality, “Like Those Playground Kids at Midnight” stands as a beacon of defiance, encouraging all to embrace their uniqueness and challenge the boundaries that confine them. It invites us to traverse the enigmatic landscapes of desire, identity, and aspiration, all while advocating for the liberation of the soul.

The Martha Graham Dance Company 
Martha Graham’s Suite from Appalachian Spring
The Appalachian Spring Suite is a narrated presentation of highlights from Appalachian Spring that gives the audience an inside look at the remarkable collaboration between Martha Graham and Aaron Copland. The dancing is introduced by text borrowed from Graham’s letters to Copland. Her eloquent and intimate descriptions of the characters, setting and atmosphere for the work are matched with the end result – the music and dance they inspired. Copland’s Pulitzer Prize winning score and the clean, athletic Graham choreography clearly embody her early writings about the dance. The Appalachian Spring Suite offers the audience unique insight into the creative process of these two geniuses.

Jamar Roberts’ We the People
We The People, a radical new piece from Jamar Roberts, was made possible with a significant commissioning grant from The O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation. This production was also made possible by The 92nd Street Y, as part of 92NY’s 150th anniversary celebration, in honor and continued support of Martha Graham’s rich 92NY legacy. Production support was provided by the University of Michigan.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Company’s Ailey II
Ailey Classics is a collection of excerpts from three beloved works choreographed by Alvin Ailey between 1958 and 1972. This work of highlights features excerpts from Mr. Ailey’s first masterpiece Blues Suite, the lyrical and romantic The Lark Ascending, and his standout ballet Streams.

Hope Boykin’s “Manifesting Legacy”
A world premiere celebrating 92NY’s 150th anniversary and commissioned specifically for this event. Manifesting Legacy explores Boykin’s influences and lessons learned, marking her history and love of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and giving tribute to the leaders who made room for her to continue to grow as a mover and maker. Her twenty-year career as a performer was just the beginning — this new work is her thank you.

About The 92nd Street Y, New York: The 92nd Street Y, New York (92NY) is a world-class center for the arts and innovation, a convener of ideas, and an incubator for creativity. 92NY offers extensive classes, courses and events online including live concerts, talks and master classes; fitness classes for all ages; 250+ art classes, and parenting workshops for new moms and dads. The 92nd Street Y, New York is transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action all over the world. All of 92NY's programming is built on a foundation of Jewish values, including the capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the potential of education and the arts to change lives; and a commitment to welcoming and serving people of all ages, races, religions, and ethnicities. For more information, visit www.92NY.org.
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