SocietEye: Ailey’s Opening Night Gala Benefit [20+ PHOTOS]

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Yannick Lebrun, Jillian Hervey and Ryan Jamaal Swain.Pete Monsanto

Annika Harris

See more than 20 photographs from Ailey's star-studded opening night performance and party, featuring star dancers.

On December 4th, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) kicked off its 2019-2020 season at New York City Center with an opening night gala attended by many celebrities and notables.

Honoree Elaine Wynn and Ailey's Artistic Director Robert Battle.Pete Monsanto

Artistic Director Robert Battle led the festivities with award-winning actor and singer Renée Elise Goldsberry serving as honorary chair. AADT honored Elaine Wynn and The Elaine Wynn Foundation for their generous contributions which have made new works, as well as the Elaine Wynn & Family Education Wing possible. In 2017, the wing added three new floors, which include four new dance studios and two classrooms, to The Joan Weill Center for Dance, New York’s largest building dedicated to dance, according to media materials. Battle presented the award to Wynn.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's Revelations.Christopher Duggan

The benefit gala included a performance of two Merce Cunningham Centennial Solos to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth. This was the first time the choreographer’s work has hit the Ailey stage. The company also memorialized opera legend Jessye Norman with the performance of a special excerpt of Battle’s Channels, set to Norman’s recorded performance of a Johannes Brahms song. The performance culminated in the same fashion as many of Ailey’s, dancing Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations, this time set to live music.

Artistic Director Robert Battle, Linda Celeste Sims, Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya (far left) and the Company.Christopher Duggan

Following the performance, more than 800 guests joined Battle, Artistic Director Emeria Judith Jamison, and the stars of the AAADT at the New York Midtown Hilton’s Grand Ballroom to keep the party going. Nearly $2.3 million was raised in support of the creation of new works; scholarships to The Ailey School, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary; and Ailey’s extensive educational programs for young people.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Darrell Grand Moultrie's Ounce of Faith.Christopher Duggan

Throughout the New York City Center engagement, Ailey’s 32 remarkable dancers will unveil four premieres, two new productions, and a variety of returning favorites, classics, and special programs. AADT will continue to inspire audiences across North America with a coast-to-coast city tour beginning in February 2020. For more information, visit

Keep scrolling for more images from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Opening Night Gala Benefit, including the red carpet and after-party.

Angela BassettPete Monsanto

André HollandPete Monsanto

Charles BlowPete Monsanto

Glorya Kaufman and Judith JamisonPete Monsanto

Gala Co-Chairs Howard and Paulette Mullings BradnockPete Monsanto

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Jermaine TerryPete Monsanto

Jillian "Lion Babe" HerveyPete Monsanto

Lorraine ToussaintPete Monsanto

Ailey Board Member Lucinda MartinezPete Monsanto

Honorary Chair Renée Elise GoldsberryPete Monsanto

Ailey's Artistic Director Robert BattlePete Monsanto

Ryan Jamaal SwainPete Monsanto

Sunny HostinPete Monsanto

The Ailey School's co-director Tracy Inman and Ryan Jamaal SwainChristopher Duggan

Elan Artists Entertainment at Alvin Ailey's Opening Night Gala BenefitAiley DCP

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Akua Noni Parker and Yannick LebrunAiley DCP

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Corrin Rachelle Mitchell and Jessica PinkettPete Monsanto

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Courtney Celeste Spears and Ryan Jamaal SwainAiley DCP

Board President Emerita Debra L. Lee and Ailey's Artistic Director Robert BattleChristopher Duggan

Gala Co-Chair and Ailey Board Chairman Emerita Joan Weill and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Hope BoykinChristopher Duggan

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Khalia Campbell and Darrell Grand MoultrieChristopher Duggan

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Vernard Gilmore and Constance StamatiouAiley DCP

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Yazzmeen LaidlerChristopher Duggan