Exclusive: Alvin Ailey Presents a Stirring Tribute to Rep. John Lewis, Choreographed by Jamar Roberts

In Memory (2020)
In Memory (2020)
Screenshot: Courtesy of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

It’s nearly impossible to adequately express the range of feelings and emotions that occur when we lose someone as pivotal to our history as the late Rep. John Lewis. For creatives, it’s a type of block usually dissolved by expressing oneself in another way—through art.


This is certainly the case with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s first resident choreographer Jamar Roberts (Ode, Members Don’t Get Weary, Cooped), who presents In Memory, a dance film crafted in tribute to the late civil rights icon. Lewis, commissioned for this year’s March On Washington Film Festival.

The Root has exclusively obtained the video tribute footage for your viewing:

In Memory (2020) / Courtesy of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

Incorporating beautifully composed music by Kwami Coleman, In Memory is described best via its press release sent to The Root:

The film opens with a scene of a young man that has fallen - stumbled on the ‘long road to freedom’. As he presses forward he happens upon a place that reminds him of the trauma and brutalities inflicted on himself and his fellow ‘foot-soldiers’ at hands of law enforcers. His reaction is visceral.

Cut to the final scene. A solo inspired by the words of John Lewis from the 2020 documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble. “There are forces in America today that want to take us back. But we’re not going back. We’ve come too far. We’re going forward.”

The heart of this work attempts to capture the essence and the power of a movement and a man that will forever live in our hearts and will echo on into the future.

Joining other fellow dance communities, Ailey has become dedicated to upholding Lewis’ legacy by participating in voting amplification campaigns such as #NYCDANCEUNITES and #DANCE2VOTE.

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s first-ever virtual season takes place Dec. 2-31 and will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Ailey masterpiece Revelations. During the upcoming virtual season, Roberts will be premiering, “A Jam Session for Troubling Times,” inspired by and featuring the music of the revolutionary saxophonist and composer Charlie “Bird” Parker (to honor and celebrate Parker’s centennial, dubbed Bird100).

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Rooo sez BISH PLZ

This should be in Fall for Dance next year