Alabama Dance Exchange

Kyle Abraham Dance Residency Honors Civil Rights Legacies in Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham on January 5-18


Birmingham, AL – Kyle Abraham and his contemporary dance company Abraham.In.Motion (A.I.M.) is the guest company-in-residence for the 2015 Alabama Dance Festival in January. Residency activities and performances will take place in three pivotal communities in the civil rights movement - Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham - to stimulate community conversations about the civil rights movement through Kyle's all-new collection of dance works, When the Wolves Came In. Through local partnerships, each community is designing their residency directly with the company.

When the Wolves Came In consists of several new works that explore the historical legacy of two totemic triumphs in the international history of civil rights: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 20th anniversary of the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa. The works take their inspiration from Max Roach’s iconic 1960 protest album We Insist: Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, which celebrated the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and shed a powerful light on the growing civil rights movements in South Africa and the U.S. The premier took place on September 25, 2014 at New York Live Arts.

For the Alabama tour, immediately after the presentation of When the Wolves Came In, everyone, including choreographer, cast, and the audience, will take part in a powerful yet relaxed conversation about the many issues brought up by the work. This community forum is the residency centerpiece tailored for each city, celebrating the theme of “Freedom: our presence, momentum, and impulse.”

Facilitated by A.I.M.’s Community Education Director, Maritza Mosquera, participants will explore present concerns, joys, and visions for self and community through flexible instigations, direct questions and sharing of personal stories. Participants will work individually, in small groups and with the larger audience. Scribes will capture these rich conversations to become a text-portrait of each community.

The first stop on the Alabama tour is Montgomery on January 5-7. Kyle Abraham is presenting a public lecture demonstration on When the Wolves Came In, on January 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the Lelia M. Barlow Theatre located in the Tullibody Fine Arts Center at Alabama State University. The Community Forum will immediately follow Kyle’s presentation.

According to Georgette Norman, A.I.M.’s residency coordinator in Montgomery, “Kyle Abraham is providing an opportunity for the community to engage in conversation around issues that are relevant to our time by gathering information from the community and then presenting it in a way in which everyone’s voice is heard.”

Assisting Mr. Abraham with the lecture demonstration is A.I.M. dancer Jeremy “Jae” Neal and dance students from Troy University. Mr. Neal set an excerpt of The Watershed on the students during a summer intensive last August. They will perform it in Montgomery and also open A.I.M.’s performance in Birmingham on January 17. The Watershed is one of the pieces in the collected works of When the Wolves Came In.

The next part of the Alabama tour takes place in Selma on January 7-8 and January 12-13. The full company arrives in Alabama on January 11 and will perform When the Wolves Came In at Selma High School on January 13 at 6:00 p.m. The Community Forum will immediately follow the performance.

The residency coordinator in Selma is Martha Lockett, Executive Director of Arts Revive, who is working in partnership with the Selma City Schools. In the national spotlight with the release of the film Selma and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, Martha Lockett views A.I.M.’s residency as an opportunity to acknowledge what has been accomplished in the last fifty years while looking to the future. “Everyone is ready to have the next conversation about where we want to go, and this wonderful artistic experience will help us get out of the rut in which we often find ourselves.”

After Selma, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion will join the activities of the Alabama Dance Festival in Birmingham as the featured guest company. The performance of When the Wolves Came In will be presented in partnership with Samford University on January 17, 7:00 p.m. at the Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center. The Community Forum will immediately follow the performance.

This is the company’s second appearance at the Alabama Dance Festival. Presented in 2013 during the “50 Years Forward” commemoration of Birmingham’s Civil Rights Movement, Kyle Abraham’s return to Alabama gives the opportunity to build on relationships that began two years ago.

Dr. Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council, explains her 2015 programming decision for the Alabama Dance Festival. “Back in 2013, Kyle and I both recognized that our work together needed to go further and that we weren’t finished yet. From what Kyle has shared with me since then, his experiences in Birmingham became part of the inspiration for When the Wolves Came In.”

When she learned that the premier of Wolves would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, Dr. Johnson immediately began cultivating partnerships in Montgomery and Selma so that the company’s residency could be extended to both communities.

“It became a personal journey for me, something that I had to do. I have ties to all three communities because I was born in Montgomery, grew up in Birmingham after my family moved here in 1963, and worked in Selma as Fine Arts Director at Wallace Community College for twenty-three years.” Dr. Johnson returned to Birmingham in 2002 when she became Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council.

The mission of Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion is to create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work. Born into hip-hop culture in the late 1970s and grounded in Abraham’s artistic upbringing in classical cello, piano, and the visual arts, the goal of the movement is to delve into identity in relation to a personal history. The work entwines a sensual and provocative vocabulary with a strong emphasis on sound, human behavior and all things visual in an effort to create an avenue for personal investigation and exposing that on stage. A.I.M. is a representation of dancers from various disciplines and diverse personal backgrounds. Combined together, these individualities create movement that is manipulated and molded into something fresh and unique.

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Kyle Abraham began his dance training at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He continued his dance studies in New York, receiving a BFA from SUNY Purchase and an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

In November 2012, Abraham was named the newly appointed New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist for 2012–2014. Just one month later, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater premiered Abraham’s newest work, Another Night, at New York’s City Center to rave reviews.

Rebecca Bengal of Vogue writes, “What Abraham brings to Ailey is an avant-garde aesthetic, a original and politically minded downtown sensibility that doesn’t distinguish between genres but freely draws on a vocabulary that is as much Merce and Martha as it is Eadweard Muybridge and Michael Jackson.”

That same year, Abraham was named the 2012 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient and 2012 USA Ford Fellow.

Abraham received a prestigious Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for his work in The Radio Show, and a Princess Grace Award for Choreography in 2010. The previous year, he was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 To Watch for 2009, and received a Jerome Travel and Study Grant in 2008.

His choreography has been presented throughout the United States and abroad, most recently at On The Boards, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, REDCAT, Philly Live Arts, Portland’s Time Based Arts Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Bates Dance Festival, Harlem Stage, Fall for Dance Festival at New York’s City Center, Montreal, Germany, Jordan, Ecuador, Dublin’s Project Arts Center, The Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum located in Okinawa Japan, The Andy Warhol Museum and The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

In addition to performing and developing new works for his company, Abraham.In.Motion, Abraham recently premiered The Serpent and The Smoke, a new pas de deux for himself and acclaimed Bessie Award-winning and former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Wendy Whelan as part of Restless Creature and a new work entitled Counterpoint, for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Chicago Dancing Festival.

In 2011, OUT Magazine labeled Abraham as the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama”.

For more information about Kyle Abraham, visit

For more information about the Alabama Dance Festival, visit

For tickets, call 205.726.2853, purchase online at or at the door.


Lecture Demonstration with Kyle Abraham        
Followed by a Community Forum            
January 6, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.                
Lelia M. Barlow Theatre                
Tullibody Fine Arts Center                
Alabama State University                
FREE Admission                    

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion Performance
Followed by a Community Forum
January 13, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Selma High School Auditorium
General Admission $15 | Reserved $25
Co-presented by Arts Revive and Selma City Schools

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion Performance
Followed by a Community Forum
January 17, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center
General Admission $15 | Reserved $25
Co-presented by the Alabama Dance Festival and Samford University


FREE Community Dance Classes
January 10, 9:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
North Meeting Rooms
Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

January 10, 12:30 p.m.
Mainstage Theatre
Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
FREE Admission

January 16, 8:00 p.m.
Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center
General Admission $15 | Students $8

January 18, 2:30 p.m.
Dorothy Jemison Day Theater
Alabama School of Fine Arts
General Admission $15 | Students $8

January 17 – 18 at various times and locations
For pre-professional dance students (grades 6-12), college, and professional dancers.
Visit for class schedules and pricing.

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion Promotional Video: 

Two interview links:

NEA Spotlight on Alabama Dance Council: interview with Kyle Abraham and Rosemary Johnson

Alabama Arts Radio program, Kyle Abraham interviewed by Rosemary Johnson:

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