Photo by Andrew Eccles
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.
Photo by Christopher Duggan
ELISA CLARK is an award-winning artist and educator, from the Washington, DC area, who trained at the Maryland Youth Ballet prior to receiving a BFA from The Juilliard School under Benjamin Harkarvy. Ms. Clark was a founding member of Robert Battle’s Battleworks Dance Company, where she also served as Company Manager (2001-2006). Additionally, she was a featured member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (2013-2017), Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (2001, 2011-2012), and Mark Morris Dance Group (2006-2011), as well as performed with Nederlands Dans Theater and The Metropolitan Opera, in works by Jirí Kylián, and Crystal Pite, respectively. Since 2002, she has been assistant to Mr. Battle and frequently restages his work. Ms. Clark has held residencies and adjunct positions at the Ailey School, Alabama School of Fine Arts, Boston Conservatory, Brown University, George Mason University, Marymount Manhattan College, New World School of the Arts and Perry-Mansfield, and she is currently on faculty at the University of the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, MOVE (NYC) and the American Dance Festival, in addition to guest teaching nationwide. She is a 2008 Princess Grace Award Winner and is thrilled to be joining the faculty at Princeton University this semester.
A Certified Life Coach, with a focus on providing support for dancers through a holistic lens, Ms. Clark is passionate about leading professional development seminars and workshops to promote necessary conversations, and to help shed more light on the realities of the field of dance. She is called upon to assist in bridging the gap for those entering the profession, to support artists while in their career, and to offer guidance into a post-dancing career shift, all by empowering dancers. In addition to drawing on her deep knowledge and versatile experiences as dancer, educator, manager, mentor and coach, Ms. Clark is currently engaged in several creative research projects.