Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is the latest company to move ahead with the creation of new work while performing arts venues remain almost completely shut down in New York. The troupe’s monthlong December season will include a world premiere from Jamar Roberts, Ailey’s choreographer in residence, and the debut of a collaborative response to Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano.
“A teacher once said to me that what is great about great art or great teaching is the ability to see what is there as opposed to focusing on what isn’t there,” Robert Battle, the company’s artistic director, said in an interview. “This virtual season speaks to that; we’re deciding to look at the possibilities rather than focus on what we can’t do.”
Mr. Roberts’s new dance, “A Jam Session for Troubling Times,” was created as a contribution to this year’s Charlie Parker centennial and will feature Parker’s music. Jazz is a continuing source of inspiration for Mr. Roberts, who has used it for earlier dances, including last year’s “Ode.”
Duke Ellington, another jazz legend, will also be the focus of a program. “We didn’t actually set out to do that as a programmatic thing,” Mr. Battle said. “It’s just that that is so much a part of what we gravitate to, and I think that’s in no small part due to the founder and his interest in jazz.”
During his career, Ailey choreographed more than a dozen dances to Ellington’s music. Newly recorded performances of some of those pieces will be paired with archival material to show the depth of Ailey’s engagement with Ellington. Among the dances that will be highlighted is “Pas de Duke,” which was recently performed for the camera by Jacqueline Green and Yannick Lebrun at the top of the Woolworth Building.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of “Revelations,” the company’s signature work, the troupe is preparing a special digital presentation for opening night, Dec. 2, which will include commentary and analysis by Ailey experts and former dancers. “Testament,” the new dance by Mr. Rushing, Mr. Brown and Ms. Sorzano, will weave together their personal experiences with “Revelations,” input from current dancers and an original score by Damien Sneed.
Additional programing will be announced later in the fall. For more information, visit alvinailey.org.