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Rachael McLaren Talks About Dancing With Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Rachael McLaren in Alvin Ailey’s Blues Suite

The excitement of dancing with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
just pours out of Rachael McLaren. SacPress reached McLaren by phone
recently while she waited for another flight on the current Alvin
Ailey North American tour. She will be dancing with Alvin Ailey in
Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center April 5th and 6th.

McLaren began by talking about dance. “Dance comes from the people.”
“(It is) human connections-celebrating together.”

Rachael McLaren in Camille A. Brown’s The Evolution Of A Secured Feminine

Rachael McLaren started dancing when she was five years old. She was
always all about movement, bouncing around the house. She grew up
watching her hometown, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, where she would
eventually go on to study. At first, it was all about ballet and
classical piano. She eventually discovered high school musical theater
and contemporary dance as well.

Upon graduating from high school, she was off to the big city of
Toronto where she was cast in the long running production of the
Broadway musical “Mamma Mia!”

Jackie Davidson, McLaren’s Creative Movement & Ballet teacher at the
Royal Winnipeg Ballet, sent her to New York to check out the Alvin
Ailey American Dance Theater program. McLaren was in the school for
one year before she was selected, not auditioned, to join the Ailey II
Company of 12 members, under the direction of Sylvia Waters. The
Alvin Ailey website describes the company’s makeup:

“Ailey II combines the best young modern dancers with outstanding
emerging choreographers.”

While she was being recruited, McLaren was also in discussion with
Ron Cunningham of The Sacramento Ballet. Although she feels she could
have enjoyed working and living in Sacramento, McLaren had already
talked about living and working in New York. The cultural experiences
available there had been her lifetime dream.

Rachael McLaren has now been dancing with the Alvin Ailey first
company for three years, and is rightly proud to be dancing with Alvin
Ailey. The company is well known for its technical skills and for
being an ambassador to the world for the United States. Ailey founded
the company in New York in 1958, when he was just 27 years old. The
company has been under the leadership of artistic director Judith
Jamison since Ailey’s death in 1968. When Jamison retires on June 1st,
Robert Battle will take over as artistic director.

Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, and Robert Battle

The company’s best known and signature work is “Revelations” (1960)
which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. According to
McLaren, the work is so important that it is performed at every
company performance. “Revelations” will be performed in the second
half of the program following a film short, “Celebrating ‘Revelations’
at 50.”

Ailey II in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

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