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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m taking some time today to draw attention to two figures in the dance world that I love and respect: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

1. Ohad Naharin

Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin is famous for creating the Gaga movement language, and for his work as the artistic director of Batsheva dance company. Naharin has set his work “DecaDance,” which includes excerpts from many of his previous works, on dance companies across the U.S. But no matter which excerpts Naharin chooses, the work always includes a bit of audience participation (you’ll see this in the video). 

The video below shows IT Dansa performing “Minus 16,” which is actually the name of the piece with the chairs, in addition to excerpts of Naharin’s other works.

2. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

I saw the Ailey company perform in Chapel Hill,NC, last night, which marked my first time seeing them in person. The company members invest physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the work they perform, and the result is truly breathtaking to behold.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded by African-American dancer Alvin Ailey in the late 1950s. Ailey initially drew from his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration; this winning combination led to the creation of Ailey’s most famous work, “Revelations.”

(From Ailey website:) In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the Company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

Here is a clip of “Sinner Man,” a section from “Revelations,” as performed by the Ailey company on So You Think You Can Dance. If you get a chance, I highly recommend seeing it in person.