Alvin Ailey

Founder

Born in Rogers, Texas on January 5, 1931, Alvin Ailey was introduced to dance by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.  His formal dance training began with an introduction to Lester Horton's classes by his friend, Carmen de Lavallade.
 
When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his "blood memories" of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work–Revelations. 
 
Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Alvin Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work.  Today, the Company continues Mr. Ailey's mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones.  In all, more than 200 works by over 80 choreographers are part of the Ailey company’s repertoire.
 
Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey asked Judith Jamison to become Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Remaining committed to furthering Alvin Ailey’s legacy, she has brought the Company to unprecedented success. Ms. Jamison wrote in her autobiography, Dancing Spirit, “I hope I'm a continuation of Alvin's vision.  He has left me a road map.  It's very clear.  It works.
 
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from the now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York.  Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.  The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 23 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on six continents, including two historic residencies in South Africa.  In 2008, the U.S. Congress designated the Company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world,” promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

Featured News Releases

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Presents Ailey Forward - First-Ever Virtual Season Celebrating Six Decades Of Revelations December 2 - 31, 2020

New York – November 10, 2020 – This holiday season, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will continue a tradition of uplifting and uniting audiences across the globe with a free virtual engagement celebrating six decades of Revelations, thanks to the generous support of Bank of America. Nine special presentations extending from December 2 – 31 will each be available online for a one-week period and open to all. Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will elevate a legacy of innovation and excellence in artistry with a reimagined season featuring premieres by Ailey’s Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts; and Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing, in partnership with Company member and Assistant to the Rehearsal Director Clifton Brown, and former Company member Yusha-Marie Sorzano; a variety of other distinct programs; and a series of BattleTalk conversations, moderated by Artistic Director Robert Battle.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Invites Viewers To Enjoy Family Programs During Ailey Forward - First-Ever Virtual Season Celebrating Six Decades Of Revelations

New York – December 4, 2020 – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater invites families around the world to gather for special family programming during Ailey Forward – the Company’s first-ever virtual holiday season. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will elevate a legacy of artistic innovation and excellence while celebrating six decades of Alvin Ailey’s timeless Revelations. Nine presentations through the holidays, each available free online for a week, carry on the tradition of uplifting audiences and making dance accessible to all with engaging family-friendly programs and interactive experiences to uplift and unite across generations.

Ailey Ascending 60th Anniversary Celebration Honors Groundbreaking Founder While Taking Bold New Leaps To Elevate Organization's Reach And Impact

August 1, 2018 (NEW YORK CITY) —When Alvin Ailey and a small group of African American modern dancers first took the stage in 1958, appearing at New York City’s 92nd Street Y, the engagement was for one night only—but it turned out to be the start of a new era in the performing arts. Mr. Ailey became one of the groundbreaking greats in African American history, while the work of his Company grew beyond the limits of the stage to encompass education at all levels, community outreach and cultural diplomacy. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater now embodies six decades of achievement, celebrating the human spirit with performances that unite and inspire all.

Featured Press Coverage

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The New Yorker - Goings On About Town

Every December, the dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre fill the City Center stage, night after night, with their joy, very, and technical prowess. Traditionally, most of those performances end with "Revelations," Ailey's signature work from 1960. Ailey's virtual season kicks off, on Dec. 2, with an online gala, featuring excerpts from "Revelations," filmed outdoors at Wave Hill, in the Bronx.

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PIX 11 - Alvin Ailey Launches Livestream To Commemorate Iconic Work

The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater has become a cultural landmark in the world of dance. For the last six decades, dancers from the iconic company have performed signature masterpieces all over the globe. Now as we celebrate the holidays during these unprecedented times, the theater debuts its first virtual engagement to honor one of its classic ballets called Revelations.

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The New York Times - Alvin Ailey Announces December Season

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is the latest company to move ahead with new work while performing arts spaces remain almost completely shut down in New York. The troupe's monthlong December season will include a world premiere from Jamar Roberts, Ailey's choreographer in residence, and the debut of a collaborative response to Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano.