If you’ve seen the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform “Revelations,” about the black church of Ailey’s childhood, you no doubt have seen Renee Robinson. The ending always brings audiences to their feet: Robinson plays the lead gossip among the church ladies, she fans herself furiously in her yellow dress and dances her heart out.
This past weekend, Renee Robinson–the last dancer in the company chosen by the late Ailey who was called “the quintessential Ailey woman” by another company dancer–retired from the stage, after 31 years with the company.
Here & Now’s Lynn Menegon spoke with Robinson in 2007, when the Ailey Company, led at the time by Judith Jamison, was on tour in Boston. Robinson shares how the secret of success, both her’s and the company’s, starts with food.
Robinson has long been the company’s unofficial nutritionist, while E.J. Corrigan, backstage technical director, jokes he’s the “head of morale” in the Ailey company. He says he brings along an upright smoker, two grills and two deep-fat turkey fryers on every company tour, because “we do a lot of cookin’, a lot of grillin’, a lot of smokin’” to keep the dancers primed for performance.
- New York Times: A Compelling Salute to Posterity
- Video: Robinson performs a solo at the 2012 Dance Magazine Awards
This program was originally broadcast on April 27th, 2007.