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St. Louis dancers who left Alvin Ailey will perform local show around social justice

St. Louisans will get to see three former Alvin Aileydancers — who now live in the Gateway City — in a Dance St. Louis showcase next February.

The performance will feature St. Louis native Antonio Douthit-Boyd, his husband, Kirven Douthit-Boyd, and dancer Alicia Graf-Mack. Last January, the Douthit-Boyds announced they were leaving the prestigious Ailey companyand moving to St. Louis to work at COCA. Graf-Mack had already made a new home in St. Louis.

The show will respond to issues around Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson last year and other such cases in the country. Dance St. Louis’ artistic and executive director Michael Uthoff says dance is a perfect vehicle for exploring these concerns.

Michael Uthoff
Credit Dance St. Louis / Michael Uthoff
Michael Uthoff
Michael Uthoff

“You can project your anger, you can project your fear, you can project your hopes anywhere in the country, through your body, anywhere in the world, and the people will know it,” Uthoff said. “It’s the one language that we all share.”

Uthoff said that to have all three former Ailey dancers living here is a lucky break for our city.

“They’re in the prime of their careers, they’ve made a choice to focus their energy on bestowing their knowledge to youth,” Uthoff said. “We’re very fortunate.”

Renowned choreographer Diane McIntyre will create the dance for the trio. Some of the performance will be inspired by the words of poet Maya Angelou. McIntyre will also hire a half-dozen other local dancers. But she’ll look for more than just talent.

“Certainly they have to be dancers that are in touch with the community, that are in touch with the social atmosphere throughout the country,” Uthoff said. “That they don’t just kick their legs and turn but there is a commitment to the kind of work we’re trying to do.”

The February 2016 showcase will also include local dance companies Madco and Big Muddy. Choreographer Bebe Miller will work with Madco, using the music of Miles Davis. Robert Moses, a former Ailey dancer, will choreograph the Big Muddy piece, employing music created by a local Baptist pastor.

Tryouts will take place in September, and rehearsals will begin in November. The showcase is part of Dance St. Louis’s fiftieth anniversary season, which also includes “Carmina Burana,” starring Nashville Ballet and Momix in “Alchemia.”

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.