The foundation decided that a tribute to Ailey, to be performed by Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre May 27 and 28, was too "substantially similar" to Ailey's Revelations, a 1960 work set to spirituals.
An anonymous email tip alerted the foundation to the works' similarities. A videotape of the work was screened by foundation staff, which decided that the work could not be performed in its current form.
Sharon Gersten Luckman, the Ailey Foundation's executive director, said that although the foundation did not object to a tribute, that the Hancock company's version had "the look and feel of Revelations. It has the identical musical score from Revelations."
Lisa A. Hiday, a copyright attorney representing the Indianapolis company, said, "Because of the contact from the Ailey company, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre went back and took a second look at their program and wanted to be considerate of the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation's concerns. In doing so, they thought it would be best to reorder some pieces, change some music, and change some choreography."
The second half of this weekend's program, now called "Freedom," will not make any reference to Ailey or to Revelations. The program, called in its entirety "Wade in the Water," will now, in the wake of the Ailey conflict, be performed for free.
Gregory Hancock, the company's artistic director, said he only wanted to pay tribute to a choreographer he admired, and also said he did not think the Ailey Foundation would sue. He anticipated an "amicable conclusion," he said.