It’s been nearly five years since QCity Metro last spoke with Alvin Ailey dancer Jacquelin Harris.
At that time, Harris was preparing for a show in Charlotte, her hometown, with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT).
Now, she will return home with the same dance company to mark its first performance in the Queen City since 2020. At the performance on Feb. 21, Harris will perform a solo dance.
After her first interview with QCity Metro, the pandemic forced the world to go virtual, including the AAADT, but Harris told QCity Metro in a recent interview that the dance theater still found ways to perform.
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The company offered free, virtual performances it posted online.
Harris says she and other dancers performed from their homes. “We had our dogs and our pets in the background, and we had our families join us,” Harris said.
“It was very fun, it was very free, and it was very light.”
Through its Elite All-Access program, AAADT posted free, professionally recorded stage footage and full-length performances on its website and YouTube.
This program, Harris continued, was one of the benefits of being virtual.
Benefits of being virtual
“I was able to be in Charlotte for [a] whole year, and be with my family and still dance with the company,” she told QCity Metro.
She said she enjoyed being able to continue dancing and be with loved ones at the same time.
Returning to in-person was a challenge, Harris said, because she wasn’t dancing as often and had to get back in shape.
The dance company offered conditioning and training to keep dancers in shape, and encouraged prioritizing wellness by providing therapy and yoga services.
An emotional ‘Cry’
When AAADT performs in Charlotte, Harris will perform “Cry,” a highly-emotional solo piece that Ailey performed in 1971 as a tribute to his mother.
“To me, the name represents the passion and amplitude of Black women and how they are integral in every aspect of life,” Harris said.
“’Cry’ is a 17 minute solo and when you make it to the end, you feel that triumph of having persevered. It’s an unbelievable feeling to, you know, have made it by your own strength, the strength of God and the strength of your community,” Harris said, detailing her solo piece.
Harris said she is most excited to perform the solo in front of her mom as a way to honor and celebrate everything her mother has poured into her.
Harris says — aside from her hometown stop — she’s looking forward to tour stops in Washington D.C. and Chicago. According to Harris, the cities are both places she’s spent a lot of time in and feels connected to.
The AAADT will be in Charlotte Feb. 21-22 and will perform contemporary pieces with music from Drake, Erykah Badu and other popular artists.