Distinguished choreographer Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company and New World School of the Arts dance alumnus (1990), continued the NWSA Dance on Film Series this month with a screening and impassioned discussion of a short dance film he created, in conjunction with the film Moonlight, featuring NWSA alum Jamar Roberts, also a dance alumnus of NWSA. Earlier in the day Battle offered a Master Class to NWSA college and high school dance students. After the two-hour class, Mr. Battle, accompanied by NWSA dance faculty member and rehearsal director Lara Murphy, had the opportunity to observe a full run of his choreography “Overture”, performed by the NWSA college dancers. “Overture” will be presented on Saturday at the New World Dance Theater as part of Daniel Lewis Miami Dance Sampler performance.
Created with filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer, Battle shared insights into his choreographic process as well as his artistic philosophy and outlook. The evening’s discussion and Q & A was moderated by Daniel Lewis, Founding Dean of the Dance Division, who began the evening by showing a film of Mr. Battle performing an exquisite solo created for him by choreographer Gerri Houlihan, at the Colony Theater, during his tenure as a dancer with the David Parsons Dance Company. Robert Battle spoke eloquently about this brief but beautifully evocative film, created in conjunction with the Oscar Award-winning film, Moonlight. With wit and clarity, he answered questions about his ongoing artistic work and the challenges and rewards of a career as a choreographer and artistic director at the highest levels, which was inspirational to all.
The film “Moonlight” won Best Motion Picture and was nominated in five other categories, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay from a total of eight nominations. Tarell Alvin MacCraney, who along with director Barry Jenkins received the Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, is also a graduate of New World School of the Arts.
About Robert Battle:
Robert Battle became artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in July 2011 after being personally selected by Judith Jamison, making him only the third person to head the Company since it was founded in 1958. Mr. Battle has a long-standing association with the Ailey organization.
A frequent choreographer and artist in residence at Ailey since 1999, he has set many of his works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II, and at The Ailey School. The Company’s current repertory includes his ballets Ella, In/Side, Mass, No Longer Silent, and The Hunt. In addition to expanding the Ailey repertory with works by artists as diverse as Kyle Abraham, Mauro Bigonzetti, Ronald K. Brown, Rennie Harris, and Paul Taylor, Mr. Battle has also instituted the New Directions Choreography Lab to help develop the next generation of choreographers.
Mr. Battle’s journey to the top of the modern dance world began in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, Florida. He showed artistic talent early and studied dance at a high school arts magnet program before moving on to Miami’s New World School of the Arts, under the direction of Daniel Lewis and Gerri Houlihan, and finally to the dance program at The Juilliard School, under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, where he met his mentor, Carolyn Adams. He danced with The Parsons Dance Company from 1994 to 2001, and also set his choreography on that company starting in 1998. Mr. Battle then founded his own Battleworks Dance Company, which made its debut in 2002 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as the U.S. representative to the World Dance Alliance’s Global Assembly. Battleworks subsequently performed extensively at venues including The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, American Dance Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
Mr. Battle was honored as one of the “Masters of African-American Choreography” by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005, and he received the prestigious Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in 2007. He has honorary doctorates from The University of the Arts and Marymount Manhattan College. Mr. Battle was named a 2015 Visiting Fellow for The Art of Change, an initiative by the Ford Foundation. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and has addressed a number of high-profile organizations, including the United Nations Leaders Programme and the UNICEF Senior Leadership Development Programme.
About NWSA: A Florida center of excellence in the visual and performing arts, New World School of the Arts is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. NWSA provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative, and academic development through a curriculum that reflects our community and the rich multicultural state of Florida. Through our partners NWSA confers the high school diploma, Associate of Arts degree, and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design. New World School of the Arts' rigorous eight-year curriculum and conservatory-style teaching has empowered students in our community and our nation to become leaders in the arts for more than 30 years.
New World school of the Arts offers a comprehensive dance program essential for today’s professional dancer. The conservatory-style curriculum is grounded in classical ballet and modern dance techniques with exposure to newer and world dance forms. supporting studies are choreography, music, dance history, anatomy and kinesiology, movement analysis and dance production. We are recognized around the world for our students’ exceptionally high performance and artistic levels, distinguished professional faculty, outstanding dance curricula, productive relationship with many international
and national ballet and modern dance companies, the multicultural nature of our faculty and student body, and excellent dance facilities.
Founded by the Florida Legislation more than three decades ago as a center of excellence, New World School of the Arts has educated, trained, and cultivated a generation of artists who have become the artistic leaders of the future. Graduates from the high school and college programs of NWSA are award-winning artists, playwrights and performers with Academy, Emmy, Tony, Grammy and Bessie Awards. They are influential painters, sculptors and graphic designers, and their work thrives in museums and galleries, as well as on stages and concert halls around the globe. Our alumni are a source of inspiration to young artists from all walks of life in our community and in our state, and their success is a testament of the possibilities that emerge when the right blend of support and resources are engaged.