A Swan Song for Famed Alvin Ailey Dancer
Stacy M. Brown | 2/13/2013, 10:51 a.m.
Renee Robinson Performed for the Last Time at the Kennedy Center
The final curtain has fallen on the career of one of dance's most distinguished performers.
After 31 years with the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company, Washington, D.C., native, Renee Robinson is trading in her satin ballerina slippers for a laptop and, perhaps, a trip around the globe.
"Right now, the focus is on what I've always been doing for the past 30 years, which is to dance and give a great show," Robinson said. "I won't have the other emotions that come with this being the last time until after it's all over. But, I can tell you that the focus will be to rock the house."
A principal dancer, Robinson again grabbed the spotlight during performances last week at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Northwest, a stone's throw from her Anacostia home where she said she's returning to write children's books.
The tour, which heads to Atlanta for performances through Sunday, Feb. 17, ends in New York on June 16.
"I'm coming home and I'm writing a series of children's books because I want to make it simple for children to understand how they can take care of their instrument, which is their body," she said. "Young people are curious and they ask about dancing. I want to make my books fun, light and I want them to make sense."A primary message she wants to convey is the importance of eating properly, Robinson said.
"Make food your medicine, not your poison," she said. "Also, the company you keep and the things you expose yourself to can be your medicine or your poison, so my advice is to be around people who are full of life and who want to talk about things so that your energy is not drained talking about things that are negative."
With great anticipation, Robinson looked forward to her farewell performance in D.C., because of the support her hometown has always shown her, she said.
The performances provided Robinson a chance to reflect on all that she's accomplished and it afforded her another opportunity to pay homage to Ailey, she said.
"The company's goal is to bring the best of Alvin Ailey's legacy to the stage. With dance, there is a certain amount of focused energy that has to be there and when you're on the stage, that focus comes through and that is what Ailey taught," Robinson said.
Robinson, a graduate of the all-girls Notre Dame Academy in Northwest, is the last dancer in the company to have been selected by Ailey himself. Ailey died in 1989.
Robinson is also the only dancer to have performed under each of the company's three artistic directors, Ailey, Judith Jamison and Robert Battle.
"Just as I'm so lucky to have worked under our founder and the brilliant Judith Jamison, Battle is just as committed to continuing Ailey's legacy as anyone," said Robinson, who began training at age 10 at the Jones-Haywood School in Northwest.