Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey kicked off their new season by extending an invitation for students of all ages to join them for a first-of-its-kind, free Ailey dance intensive.  The program included two evenings of classes (Thursday and Friday), followed by Saturday day classes and concluding on stage “sharing presentation” for families on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 17, in the Paseo High School Auditorium.  

“Not very often do you take three days of classes and bring something to the stage,” said Nasha Thomas, the visionary behind this new Ailey offering.  Thomas is the National Director of Ailey Camp and spokesperson for Ailey’s Arts in Education and Community Programs.  

Creative students: The youngest participants in the Ailey Dance Intensive shared what they learned in their creative movement class.

For the workshop, the Ailey organization brought in two of their national Teaching artists from the Ailey Arts in Education Programs as instructors.  Cedric Greene, who has been with Ailey Camp for six years, studied intensively at the Ailey Schools before going on to perform internationally in musicals, and taught Modern and Jazz Dance classes.  Jessica St. Vil, who is currently on the faculty of the Ailey School Professional Division and has performed with several dance theater companies, taught Afro-Caribbean and Creative Movement classes.  

Students in grades K-4 participated in the creative movement class.  Students in grades 5-6 participated in a first-ever Afro-Caribbean class.  Students in grades 7-12 participated in either a Jazz or Modern Dance class.  

“ We called it a sharing presentation,” said Thomas, “ we didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on the young people  and the teaching artist.  I would say they did a phenomenal job.”

Creative director: Tyrone Aiken, KCFAA’s Chief Artistic Director speaks to audience members at the Sharing Presentation held Sat., Dec. 17. Melanie Miller, KCfAA Chief Executive Officer looks on.

Other Dance Classes 

If your child missed this opportunity, no problem.  Thomas said the plan is to bring the intensive program back next year, possibly in a slightly different manner, but it will return.  

KCFAA continues to offer high quality, affordable dance training to Kansas City students at their offices at 1714 E. 18th St., in the city’s Historic Jazz District.  During the summer, KCFAA offers two summer camp options.  Ailey camp is a free summer camp offered June 5 – July 13 at Paseo Academy in Kansas City Missouri, and at Carl Bruce Middles School in KCK.  This camp is for 5-8 grade students with classes running from 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. 

Summer Dance, for students grades 9-12 is offered as part of KPS Summer School at Paseo Academy.  That program runs from June 5 – 30.  

Other dance class offerings at KCFAA include Ujjima Boys Class the first Saturday of each month.  These classes return Feb. 4. And continue through May. First Fridays, a free dance class for students of all ages, returns in Feb. from 6 to 6:50 p.m.  Both of these classes are at KCFAA offices.  

With all KCFAA classes, there is an emphasis on teaching young people critical life skills for academic success, in a creative, safe, environment.

Modern Dance: Participants in the Modern Dance class, led by instructor Cedric Greene, work on learning the final steps of their routine, during the third and final class of the free Dance Intensive held Dec. 15-17 at KCFAA Dance studios in KC’s Historic Jazz District.

Those who want to watch

A trio of dancers of the internationally acclaimed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform a fun and interactive dance presentation, featuring excerpts from their current repertory free on Thurs., Jan. 12, 7 p.m. at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St., KCMO.

Returning for Black History is Setting the Stage, a multi-media program that combines live dance performances with pictures and nation starting with the Middle Passage.  The program is created, directed and choreographed by KCFAA’s Chief Artistic Officer Tyrone Aiken. The production will be performed by talented local and national artists and provides insights into the history and legacies of African-American dance.  This free performance will be on Wed., Feb. 22, 7 – 8:15 p.m. at the Gem.  

On March 24 & 25, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Kansas City for the first time since 2017.  The exciting engagement includes a school-time performance for students on Fri., March 25 at 10:30 a.m. and two public performances:  Fri., March 24, 7:30 p.m. and Sat. March 25, 1 p.m.  All performances are at the Kauffman Center  

 The inspiring finale of all performances will be Alvin Ailey’s must-see American masterpiece Revelations. For information and tickets please visit www.kcfaa.org/aaadt and www.kcfaa.org/gala.

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Bonita Gooch

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...