More than any other performance in the season, Alvin Ailey attracts a large number of students who ususally do not attend a performance, said Joe Florence , marketing director of CPA.
“With the more accessible performances like Alvin Ailey, I like for a student to come and get blown away and then say, ‘OK, now I’m going to take a shot on a less accessible performance,’” Florence said.
With each performance, CPA aims for around 30 percent of total ticket sales to go toward student tickets . For most performances, the majority of student sales consists of students studying performing arts, but Ailey is different.
Based on surveys sent to CPA ticket holders, most student tickets sold for the Alvin Ailey performances are sold to UNC students of all academic years and varying majors.
Sophomore history major Nate Wilcox-Pettit chose to see Ailey as one of his six required African-related performances for his African, African-American and diaspora studies performance class.
“I’ve always been curious about dance and really know nothing about it,” he said. “The fact that Ailey is so expressive and can be appreciated by people who know nothing about dance like I do is really powerful.”
Junior journalism major Michelle Park will see Ailey perform on campus this week for the fourth time. She said she admires the company’s ability to attract a diverse audience by relating to subjects outside of dance.
“They are modern dance, but at the same time there’s more to it than just dance,” she said. “Their ‘Revelations’ piece has a lot of African history and heritage, and I think that’s something that any American can connect to.”
Many seniors are also interested in seeing Ailey before they graduate, according to the survey.
“Here, they can see them for $10. If they go to see Ailey in New York or somewhere else when they move, or even here, they have to pay $60 to $100,” Florence said.
Wilcox-Pettit said he values the group’s desire to return every year.
“The fact that they’re coming here is really rad,” he said. “You know, they could just stay in New York and people would come to them.”
Florence said it is the relationship the University forms with Alvin Ailey that got them here and keeps them coming back.
“The fact that the performers have a great time when they’re here — it’s professional, and our materials are nice, and our audiences are full, all of that — when we ask people to come back, helps them say yes,” he said.
The dance company interacts with the University outside of the annual perforamnces. Hope Boykin, a company member and Durham native , will teach a master class in modern dance Wednesday.
“Their performances are always so incredible,” said Park, who will attend Boykin’s master class this week. “It’s something that I don’t want to miss. Whenever school starts, I check Carolina Performing Arts to see when they will come and plan my tickets accordingly.”