Cry

In 1971, Alvin Ailey choreographed the ballet, Cry, as a birthday present for his mother; it went on to become an enduring work of American art. This 16-minute solo, which was first danced by the legendary Judith Jamison, is dedicated to "all black women everywhere - especially our mothers."

The solo is made up of three parts – the first set to Alice Coltrane’s “Something about John Coltrane,” the second to Laura Nyro’s “Been on a Train” and the last has the Voices of East Harlem singing “Right On, Be Free.” The female soloist represents all black women, depicting their African origins, the trials and tribulations they have endured and their joyful triumph over those hardships.  

When Cry premiered at New York City Center in 1971, it was an immediate sensation. It propelled Judith Jamison, who is now the Artistic Director Emerita of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and was Ailey’s muse for Cry, to international stardom in the dance world. In its review of the premiere, The New York Times proclaimed, “…for years it has been obvious that Judith Jamison is no ordinary dancer. Now Alvin Ailey has given his African queen a solo that wonderfully demonstrates what she is and where she is… Rarely have a choreographer and a dancer been in such accord.” Since Jamison’s portrayal of this archetypal figure first popularized the piece, it has become a distinct honor for Ailey dancers to follow in her footsteps by performing Cry in its entirety onstage.

Featured News Releases

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Announces Programming For New York City Center Season December 1-19, 2021

NEW YORK – UPDATED October 19, 2021— Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Center’s Principal Dance Company and America’s beloved cultural ambassador to the world, returns to the stage for a much-anticipated annual season in their “home” theater December 1–19, 2021. Marking a decade of leading the Company forward, Artistic Director Robert Battle will present Ailey’s renowned artists in a diverse repertory of premieres, new productions and Ailey classics. The repertory features two world premieres adapted from video to stage by Robert Battle and Ailey Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts as well as four new productions.

Ailey All Access Returns With A Fall Series Of Free Digital Broadcasts August 25 - November 17

New York, NY – August 25, 2021 – The Ailey organization resumes Ailey All Access with a fall series of free programs from August 25 – November 17 in advance of the much-anticipated return to the New York City Center stage for live performances this December. The online initiative, which has built community and celebrated the indomitable human spirit through dance since March 2020, features presentations of performance broadcasts, Ailey Extension dance and fitness classes, and more.

Ailey All Access Premieres Juneteenth Program Sponsored By Amazon On June 16

New York, NY – June 11, 2021 – The Ailey organization continues to inspire and enlighten millions across the globe with free broadcasts of performances, conversations, Ailey Extension dance and fitness classes, and more. In observance of Juneteenth, Ailey All Access will present a program of conversation and dance, speaking to the enduring power of the human spirit and extending Alvin Ailey’s legacy of artistic activism.

Featured Press Coverage

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San Francisco Chronicle - Review: Power Of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Virtual Return To Berkeley Rivals A Live Performance

Eavesdrop pre-curtain at Bay Area dance shows and you’ll hear audience members sharing their top dance memories. High on almost everyone’s list? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at UC Berkeley. The company first visited the campus in 1960, two years after its founding, and has come back every year since. And neither Artistic Director Robert Battle nor Cal Performances’ leader Jeremy Geffen were about to let that Bay Area bond lapse in a pandemic, so the dancers have returned virtually in a streaming program that does an astonishing job of relaying their in-person power. The performance premieres Thursday, June 10, with a digital “watch party,” and will be available for streaming through Sept. 8.