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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Alicia Graf Mack

Returning to Her Passion
Alicia Graf Mack photographed by Andrew Eccles

Alicia Graf Mack comes back home to Ailey.        

Tall, graceful, and elegant, Alicia Graf Mack was one of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's most striking dancers until an autoimmune disorder and a knee injury sidelined her in 2009. During her hiatus, Mack earned a masters in non-profit management and taught dance at St. Louis's Webster University. With her health restored, Mack, 33, returned to Ailey last year. Now she's the poster girl for the company's upcoming New York City Center season. Mack will in appear in most of the season's highlights, including the company premiere of Jiří Kylián's Petite Mort. DM's E-News spoke to Mack about her goals for the upcoming run.

What are the biggest challenges you face?
I never want to be the same dancer I was last year. I love dancing for Ailey because the artistic staff wants us to show our individuality. So even if I'm doing Revelations, which I danced over 200 times last year, I ask myself, How I can grow? You can find a different internal motivation, or something new in the music, or make a new story in your head.

What are you most excited about performing?
Petite Mort. Doing it is a dream come true. I love Kylián's work and when I taught choreography at Webster, we studied that piece in my class. I come from the classical world, and I appreciate the opportunity to merge my classical and modern training. The movement dictates all. I'm excited by that simplicity--to just do, just be.

How has your teaching experience shaped your dancing?
Teaching made me feel more connected to dance. I would hear myself break things down for the students, and they would click in my head as well. And being removed from the intense dance world and then coming back to it has helped me relax more.

What advice would you give students who see you as a role model?
To remain curious about your craft, take as many classes in as many different styles of dance as possible, and stay humble, even when you're in the spotlight.

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