BY HANNAH GOLDFINGER
AUBURN — The Jay and Susie Gogue Center partnered with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Auburn City Schools to host a residency for Drake Middle School students this month.
The theatre also held community events for adults in the area and will return later in February for the Gogue Center performance.
Sixth grade students were able to learn a variety of dance types, choreography, poetry and more as part of the theatre’s residency.
Students wrote their own poetry based off of colors and participated in interpretive dancing that went with the poetry. They learned different types of movements and how to choreograph their own ideas, as well.
Students at Drake Middle School will take a field trip later in the month to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre perform.
“We’ve been sharing with the students here, Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece ballet Revelations, we do an interdisciplinary breakdown of the three sections of his choreography and how he comprised it, where the inspiration came from and we pose the students with challenging work to write poetry, to create their own movement phrases and learn sections of the original choreography from Revelations,” said Demazi Williams, teaching artist for Alvin Ailey Arts and Education and director of Ailey Camp in New York.
These components of Revelations taught students about period-specific African-American struggles, about rebirth, the celebration of life and the Southern Baptist Church.
“They’ve been extremely receptive and they’ve really enjoyed the process, it’s been very inspiring,” said Jessica St. Vil, teaching artist for Alvin Ailey Arts and Education and a member of the faculty.
When students performed, it was to loud cheers from their classmates in the audience.
“They learned about themselves, as well as learning about dance as well, so it was a great experience working with the kids here this week,” St. Vil said.
St. Vil said students were connected to the movement and art.
These students were in four groups, performing different sections of Revelation, and performing different dances based on colors, such as black, pink or red.
“They’re able to learn and understand how a choreographer works, the meaning of being able to create choreography and where it comes from,” St. Vil said.
Williams and St. Vil, as teaching artists, precede the company that will come later in the month.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre will perform in the Woltoz theatre on Feb. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit: www.goguecenter.auburn.edu/calendar-2023-24/.