| Dance |

Floridian Robert Battle Returns With Alvin Ailey American Dance at Ziff Ballet Opening Tonight

For Robert Battle, artistic director designate of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (he takes the reins in July), Miami isn't just another stop on the company's 24-city national tour. It's home. And starting tonight at 8 p.m. at  the Ziff Ballet Opera House you'll be able to witness his return home with the company's presentation of renowned "Revelations."

Born in Florida, Battle graduated from the New World School of the Arts high school, where he recently spoke at a retirement party for Daniel Lewis, the school's founding dean of dance. "It's like family--all the people who knew you when you were 15 or 14, starting out," Battle says of his Miami return.

The Ailey company presents two programs honoring the 50th anniversary of

Ailey's masterwork "Revelations," which will be shown at each

performance. Other dances on the program include one of Battle's

signatures, "The Hunt" (2001), which he says has "a primal approach but

an urban edge," and "Love Stories" (2004), drawing from African-American

social dances and exploring notions of past, present, and future.

Artistic Director Judith Jamison, hip-hop hero Rennie Harris, and Battle

created the three distinct sections to Stevie Wonder's music. Jamison

assigned Battle to choreograph the future. Regarding his eventual takeover of the company's artistic direction,

Battle, a graduate of The Julliard School, a noted choreographer and

dancer, and, until recently, director of his own Battleworks Dance

Company, speaks humbly of "following the road map that Mr. Ailey left."

Ailey established a repertory company inclusive of many choreographic

voices. "I'm definitely going to continue that tradition, but expand on

it," Battle says. "I'm going to open that door as wide as possible,

which is Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison's legacy."

The Ailey method

reaches a huge audience, and Battle will stay focused on what moves

people. "No matter what you have on that stage, you can't show anybody

unless they come in the theater," Battle says, as he steps up to lead a

very successful enterprise.

Performances take place at the Ziff Ballet Opera House (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami)

starting tonight through Sunday: Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and

8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $2 to $120. Call

305-949-6722 or visit arshtcenter.org.

-Emily Hite for artburstmiami.com

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