Ailey Students Perform Pieces by Prominent Choreographers


Ailey students perform dances of Kanji Segawa, Stefanie Batten Bland, Jacinta Vlach and Norbert De La Cruz III for the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A., in Dance Benefit Concert. (PHOTO BY JUSTIN REBOLLO/THE OBSERVER)


Dancers from each year in the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program will grace the stage with the intricate and artistic choreography created by renowned artists. On Monday, April 20, students will perform the contemporary dances of Kanji Segawa, Stefanie Batten Bland, Jacinta Vlach and Norbert De La Cruz III for the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. in Dance Benefit Concert. The Benefit Concert will include four pieces, highlighting dancers from each year in the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. in Dance program in order to create scholarship opportunities such as the Denise Jefferson Scholarship.

The freshmen will be performing an excerpt from “Scorching Bay” by Segawa. From Kanagawa, Japan, Segawa has been a company member for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 2011; prior to that, he had also been a dancer with Ailey II, as well as a student at The Ailey School. The piece he created for the freshman class is a contemporary style piece.

“When I heard we were working with Kanji Segawa from the first company, I was immediately intimidated and nervous, but what I didn’t expect was the support and acceptance I felt from him and all my peers at the end of the whole process,” Claudia Rodriguez, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’18, said.

Rodriguez agreed that it was a great way to be introduced into the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program to get to know a company member and work with her new family/peers. “I love Kanji and I love my classmates,” Rodriguez said.


The sophomores will be performing “Ode” by Batten Bland; she is the founder and artistic director of her own contemporary company. Within Alvin Ailey she choreographs for Ailey II and the B.F.A. program, and additionally served as a New Directions Choreography Lab Fellow. Batten Bland also choreographed a contemporary piece for the Ailey students.

“Working on ‘Ode’ was an extremely difficult process. It was difficult to express the movement in a way that was human rather than artificial,” Sydney Thornell, FCLC ’17, said.

The piece was about the choreographer’s brother who committed suicide last summer. “The experience [working with Batten Bland] was truly enlightening. [She] taught us to understand and listen to one another. She helped us connect with one another rather than simply dance next to each other. I’m so grateful for everything she taught us,” Sammy Altenau, FCLC ’17, said.

The juniors will be performing new work by Vlach, who is the Founder and Artistic Director of Liberation Dance Theater and is also an Ailey School alumnus.

“It was a great experience for me to work with a choreographer whose style was very different from what I’m used to. It was a valuable experience to stretch my boundaries, but it was also difficult for me to get comfortable in new dance territory,” Hannah Newman, FCLC ’16, said.

Vlach’s piece is house style; it is about a love triangle in which the real lesson is learning to love yourself first. “Working with Vlach this semester has truly been an experience like none other. Her unique movement vocabulary combines a variety of dance styles that felt exhilarating for not only the body, but also for the soul,” Gabriel Hyman, FCLC ’16, said.

This dance takes place at a party on the town and is very upbeat and dynamic. “It was fun to be in a piece where the character was just as important as the movement,” Kacey Katzenmeyer, FCLC ’16, said.

Lastly, the seniors will be performing “Cryptic Seeds” by De La Cruz III, who is a Freelance Choreographer that has worked with Ailey Students before as a New Directions choreographer.

“Working with Norbert De La Cruz III was such an amazing and inspiring experience. He always pushes us to be our absolute best and is such a positive light in our senior year!” Brooke Naylor, FCLC ’15, said.

Some of the seniors described this piece to be “Norbert technique,” but all silliness aside, it is technically a contemporary piece. “What I love about being a part of Norbert’s piece is that it is a true culmination of our four years in the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program – all of us dancing together, sharing the necessity and essence of our art with the audience,” Kristen Stuart, FCLC ’15, said.

The senior class gets the chance to work with various guest artists, but it is clear that De La Cruz III is one that is near and dear to their hearts. “Norbert has truly taken our class on a journey. He has facilitated a growth in the senior class that cannot be described,” Polly Haas, FCLC ’15, said.

This is a great chance for the dancers in this program to work with renowned choreographers and perform for an audience of familiar faces, who all give scholarship opportunities to students within the program.


2015 Benefit Concert

WHEN: Monday, April 20, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – 405 W. 55th St.

MORE INFO: Contact Rodger Van Allen (212) 636-6562

Find out more info about the Dance program.