Students help celebrate 30 years of dance

U-News Staff

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey (KCFAA), a community dedicated to making dance accessible to the city and surrounding areas, celebrated its 30th anniversary last weekend. KCFAA is dedicated to using dance to teach youth life skills and to promote community diversity.

Alvin Ailey’s dance company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, first performed in Kansas City in 1968. In 1984, KCFAA was created as the second home for Ailey’s growing dance company, and continues to represent Ailey’s vision to unite people of all races and ethnicities to promote respect, friendship and social change in the community through dance.

“Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey has endured three decades of change, continuing to present excellent art and develop programs that address the evolving needs of youth,” said KCFAA President Robin C. Royals. “We have been challenged at times, but have remained focused on our vision-to make dance accessible to the people through its educational efforts, such as being the home of Ailey Camps.”

KCFAA has hosts the world renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Ailey believed the quality of a person’s work mattered more than a person’s race and/or ethnicity. Dancers in the company come from different backgrounds and walks of life.  This year’s performances commenced on Wednesday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and ran until Saturday. The celebration featured 30 students from UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance in the opening sequence entitled “Memoria.”

Friday’s performance began with the premiere of “Odetta,” which featured Michael Francis McBride, a sixth-season dancer. McBride felt the process was rewarding.

“There was an incredible energy on stage. Everybody really fed off of each other and we had a really great time,” McBride said.

The recital had effervescent energy from start to finish in each piece. “Four Corners” and “The Untimely Revelations” followed “Odetta.”

The annual Gala was on Saturday and featured a cocktail reception, more performances and closed with a dinner and dance party.

Gabriel Muñoz admitted to never seeing dance in the way KCFAA presented it.

“I had actually never heard of Alvin Ailey, but now, two hours later, I’m completely blown away by what it is,” Munoz said.

Jeroboam Bozeman said he has experienced great enjoyment during his time with KCFAA.

“Dancing for Alvin Ailey has been a dream come true,” Bozeman said. “I’ve always enjoyed the company. I work with some amazing artists.”