Dot native now tours with Alvin Ailey dance company

By 
Rachel Zarrell, Special to the Reporter
May. 26, 2011

Dorchester native Kirven James Boyd is now a principle dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company.Dorchester native Kirven James Boyd is now a principle dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company.

More than a decade after first joining Boston Youth Moves, Alvin Ailey American Dance Company member Kirven James Boyd will dance in his hometown once again, in two showcase performances hosted by the program.

Boyd will join ten other Alvin Ailey dancers for Boston Youth Moves’ annual fundraiser, “Swellegance 2011 - A Spark Ignites: A Celebration in Dance,” June 3 and 4 at the Boston University Tsai Performance Center. The event also serves to honor dance legend and artistic director of the Ailey company Judith Jamison with Boston Youth Moves’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tony-award winning actress and Honorary Chair Chita Rivera will also be in attendance.

A seven-year member of the renowned African-American modern dance repertory, Boyd began attending the nonprofit dance-training program for teens, Boston Youth Moves, in 1999, while also enrolled in the first-ever class at the Boston Arts Academy.

“We were a very close-knit group of young dancers, and our teachers always expected us to be at our best and we always wanted to do that,” Boyd said of the program. “From the time class began, we always wanted to give as much as we could.”

Although he danced for two hours a day in high school, Boyd, who grew up in the Franklin Park area, said he still pushed himself while attending Boston Youth Moves after school five days a week.

“That’s part of what has helped me thrive as a dancer, always wanting to do my best and always going for more,” he said. “Always striving to do more than the day before.”

After taking his first jazz class at age five, Boyd said he then began dancing at a competitive studio, but stopped after two years to pursue gymnastics and karate. But when the Boston Arts Academy opened in 1998, he decided to audition for the dance program – and got accepted.

After high school, Boyd trained on scholarship at the Boston Conservatory and as a fellowship student at The Ailey School, and spent time with the Battleworks Dance Company, The Parsons Dance Company and Ailey II.

As a dancer with Alvin Ailey, Boyd’s craft has brought him around the world, and he lists Paris and Japan as some of his favorite spots.

Although flanked with success, Boyd attributes his good fortune to a supportive family who kept him active and worked to ensure he could pursue his dreams.

“I think it was my family more so than where I grew up that really prepared me for this kind of a life,” he said. “The responsibility of being a dancer and living in New York on your own, the hard work that it takes to be a dancer, to maintain a life of a dancer – those are all things that my family instilled in me.”

As for his unconventional lifestyle, Boyd said he tries to maintain a level head in order to stay grounded.
“We tour a lot, we’re living out of suitcases a lot, we go to a bunch of foreign countries and if you’re not a strong person, you can get completely overwhelmed by all that,” he said.

Besides sustaining a solid support system and a strong temperament, Boyd advises young people with similar dreams to be fearless, and to work to understand the craft and what it takes to succeed in the field.

“You can’t show up and say, ‘I’m here, let me do this,’” he advised. “You have to go into it really down to learn something.”

The 10 dancers from the company will perform original choreography and excerpts from the Ailey Company’s repertoire, including “Revelations,” a famed host of dances set to blues and religious music, which tell the story of African-American faith from slavery to freedom. After the performance, Boston Youth Moves will host its fundraiser, “After Party with the Stars,” at the Hotel Commonwealth.

Tickets for the June 3 performance at 8 p.m. are $65. For more information call The Tsai Performance Box Office at 617-353-8725.

Tickets for the June 4 performance at 7:30 p.m. are $125 and tickets for the Performance and Gala are $300. For more information call The Jeannette Neill Dance Studio at 617.523.1355 or visit bostonyouthmoves.org.

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