Saturday, March 22, 2014

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater coming to town in April ~ Dancers Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd discuss getting married

Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd at their wedding (courtesy the Douthit-Boyds)

One of Seattle's favorite dance companies is the celebrated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Next month, April 11-13, you can see them at The Paramount Theatre. (Friday/Saturday 8:00p.m., Sunday 2:00p.m.) And yes, they will be performing their extraordinary signature piece, Revelations, at each of their three performances.

On Friday and Sunday, they will also perform The River, a dance that came out of Alvin Ailey's collaboration with Duke Ellington. This is the only symphonic score Ellington wrote for dance. It has been returned to repertory after a gap of about seven years. Also on Friday and Sunday, the company presents D-Man in the Waters (Part 1), a company premiere, created by choreographer Bill T. Jones in 1989 for his company The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. New artistic director Robert Battle is excited to have Jones work with the Ailey dancers again. The piece is a modern dance classic inspired by the AIDS crisis and a dancer struggling with his health during the creation of the work.

On Saturday, they will perform Ronald K. Brown's Grace, which begins and ends with Duke Ellington's 'Come Sunday' and includes Fela Kuti's music and Roy Davis, among others. The other piece will be Minus 16 by acclaimed Israeli choreographer, Ohad Naharin, described as a roller coaster ride, changing dramatically from section to section and involving improvisation. Music in the piece includes everything from 'Hooray for Hollywood' to Vivaldi and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'

30 dancers are in the company. Including the artistic director, associate director, rehearsal director, stage management, a physical therapist, lighting people, etc., 45-48 people travel together on the road. Dancers Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd are two company members who got married last year in New York City.

Antonio said, in an interview with me, "We were together eight years before we got married. It was kind of funny because we woke up one morning on tour and thought, 'Hey, we want to get married.' So we just did it, and we didn't think about DOMA. It was just because we loved each other and thought it was the next step."

Kirven added, "We got married in New York at the City Clerk's office and threw a big party at the (Ailey) Studio afterwards. We didn't have to second guess if it was legal or not."

Antonio described their family relations. "His family is an amazing group of people and I love them. His family and my family spent the last three holiday seasons together, and my mom calls Kirven more than she calls me. So, it's been a good year."

Describing their wedding day, he added, "The day was more than I wanted it to be. You know how if it rains, it's good luck? We had a tropical storm on our wedding day. My mother was travelling in (to New York) that day, and everyone made it, but we were worried people might not make it. If that was good luck, we're blessed!" he laughs.

Antonio acknowledged, "I still know people in Missouri who want to get married, but they have to go to a different state or not get married because the laws say you can't marry the same sex." Antonio and Kirven were happy to be able to take the next step in their relationship without worrying whether they could do it on their timetable or not.

Antonio Douthit-Boyd grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and began his dance training at 
age 16. He trained at North Carolina School of the Arts, the Joffrey Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem School. Mr. Douthit-Boyd became a member of Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1999 and joined the Ailey company in 2004.

Kirven Douthit-Boyd is from Boston, Massachusetts. Kirven said, "I saw Ailey for the first time when I was in high school in Boston. I was 13. And right away I knew I wanted to dance Ailey." Antonio said that one of the highlights for him of being a part of Ailey is the outreach they do to schools. Kirven clearly was the beneficiary of that outreach in earlier years.

Kirven described, "It was literally a dream come true. I never thought that dance like that was possible. I didn't know how to access it and tried to learn as many areas of dance so I could collect as many skills as I needed to be able to audition for Ailey." He joined Boston Youth Moves in 1999 and also trained at the Boston Conservatory and at The Ailey School. He joined the Ailey company in 2004.

Kirven said, "I got into the company when I was 19. I still had things to learn and was very receptive to all of it and I'm still here, learning. I love the challenge in the diversity of the repertoire. That's one of the greatest things. I've had so many experiences with so many choreographers that I know who I would love to work with in the future. I've also learned about myself as a part of dance and reflect on what I'm able to achieve now and what I was able to achieve when I got into the company (and the change) is incredible to me."

The Douthit-Boyds reported that there are two other couples in the company, currently, and they might be the luckiest of the company. The company spends four months a year travelling in the United States (roughly January through May) and another four travelling around Europe (in the fall). So, those who can stay together in the company might be less lonely than the ones who have to leave loved ones for so much of a year.

While they are focused on being the best dancers they can be, they are aware that dance has an inevitable end date. Antonio said, "Part of the reason we made the decision to get married was because of the other decisions we were planning on 'life after dance' and there's something to be said for loving someone so much that has the same life plan. We're either staying in New York or moving to St. Louis where I am from. We both want to run a dance institution and that's in our heads, but we're working on being the best dancers we can be while we're under contract with Ailey."

Having traveled to so many places, they must have their favorites and Antonio immediately said, "Seattle is one of my favorite stops. The city is amazing. It's laid back and progressive at the same time. It's not so hustle, hustle like New York."
For more information on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and their upcoming appearance in Seattle, go to or or call 206-682-1414. 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Bill T. Jones' D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) (Photo by Paul Kolnik)

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