Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Robert Battle

Meet Robert Battle. He just completed his first season as artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and is only the third artistic leader since Alvin Ailey began the company in 1958. The great dancer Judith Jamison picked up the mantle in 1989 and led the company for two decades, eventually choosing Battle as her successor. Battle was a dancer, choreographer, and founder of his own company, Battleworks. He grew up in a scrappy neighborhood in Miami, a bow-legged kid who had to wear braces to straighten out his legs. But he was raised in a house that loved the arts: he took piano lessons, sang at church, and took martial arts to defend himself from other kids. He began taking dance classes in high school, where, as he put it, the musicality, flexibility, and discipline all came together. Battle's path was set, and seeing the Alvin Ailey company perform proved to be another game-changer.


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