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Ailey Company Names New Director

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the nation’s most successful dance troupes, said on Wednesday that it would entrust its future to Robert Battle, a 37-year-old outside choreographer who has had a long association with the company.

Ailey announced Mr. Battle’s appointment as artistic director, to succeed Judith Jamison when she retires in June 2011. He will begin working at Ailey this July in tandem with Ms. Jamison, who will become artistic director emerita when the transition is complete.


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Thanks, kitcat. It's a fascinating story. What do people think about the appointment. I don't know Mr. Battle, but it must be strange to have people (quoted in the article) stressing how big are the shoes (Ailey's, Jamison's) that he must try to fill.

I was impressed by just how financially healthy the Ailey Company appears to be.

Mr. Battle will inherit a conglomerate — two companies, a main training school, an extension school and a community outreach arm — that runs like a Lexus of the dance world. It has recorded surpluses — an expected $1.4 million this season and $1.9 million last season, during which it celebrated its 50th anniversary — while many other arts institutions are in the red.

The company operates out of its own five-year-old gleaming headquarters on Ninth Avenue and 55th Street in Clinton, which it calls the largest building dedicated to dance in the country. Its school holds 300 classes a week; 13,000 people participate in its extension program each year.

Every year the main company, which has 30 dancers, goes on extended tours, visiting 20 to 25 American cities and spending five to eight weeks abroad. It has a five-week Manhattan stint at City Center. Ailey II employs 12 dancers and also tours extensively.

The overall budget is $26 million. Ticket sales have been consistently strong, and the company raises only about 30 percent of its revenue from donors, lower than most performing arts groups. Fund-raising will be an important part of Mr. Battle’s new job, along with managing a large staff.

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