One of the world's premiere dance companies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will team with Bristol-Myers Squibb pharmaceutical company for a new Worlds AIDS Day initiative.
"Fight HIV Your Way" is a contest designed to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and inspire people affected by the disease to continue their fight.
The 10 first-place winners, who will be announced in July, will be the inspiration for a new dance performed by the troupe. The company's new artistic director Robert Battle, who will take over the role from Judith Jamison July 1, will choose a renowned choreographer to create the piece. It will debut during Ailey's New York City Center season in December 2011and continue to be performed as part of a 2012 national tour.
Jamison announced the contest in conjunction with the start of the season.
"Today, as we open Ailey's New York season celebrating 50 years of Alvin Ailey's inspiring 'Revelations' and announce the launch of the Reyataz "Fight HIV Your Way" contest, the poignancy of this date couldn't be stronger. We lost our founder, Alvin Ailey, to the disease 21 years ago on Dec. 1, 1989," she said.
The beloved company founder got his start on Broadway as a dancer in Truman Capote's 'House of Flowers,' and in the late 1950s, began choreographing work that explored the black experience. After appearing in the acclaimed film 'Carmen Jones,' the Texas native founded his modern dance troupe in 1958 and enlisted big-name dancers such as Katherine Dunham and Ted Shawn and choreographers like George Faison and Talley Beatty.
His most famous dancers were influenced by social protest and the black church, and his popular performances featured Negro spirituals and music from jazz great Duke Ellington.
Ailey died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Harlem at the age of 58 of a terminal blood disorder, which was the result of complications from AIDS.
Jamison added, "Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is proud to be paying homage to the thousands of individuals fighting HIV their way and look forward to unveiling this original collaboration next year."
National Minority AIDS Council and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who does HIV awareness through her annual concert 'Diva's Simply Singing' and her one-woman show 'Sometimes I Cry,' is also excited about the contest initiative.
"Dance is a transformational visual art that has the unique power to unite diverse audiences," she said.
"Bristol-Myers Squibb's Reyataz 'Fight HIV Your Way' contest provides people with a channel to express how they fight HIV their way. This year, with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's involvement, the photos and essays will, literally, move and continue to provide courage and strength for others with HIV," the 'Dreamgirls' star added.
People are being asked to submit their stories through a photo and essay to www.fightHIVyourway.com through Feb. 28.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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- Robert Battle Named Judith Jamison's Successor
- Judith Jamison Readying Her Ailey Exit