Alvin Ailey

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

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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Town & Country - Amazing Grace - Still, We Dance: An Ode To The Deliverance And Joy Of Self-Expression

Every year, in theaters and concert halls around the globe, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater takes audiences to church. Not just any house of worship, but the working-class, Black, Southern temples of rural Texas. The gospel they see and feel is Revelations, the company's signature dance, which has been staged more often than the troupe's other celebrated works, for some 25 million fans. This year Revelations turns 60, and it has lost none of its incantatory power. Against the back-drop of both a global pandemic that disproportionately ravages communities of color and the urgency of social justice movements including Black Lives Matter, Ailey's valentine to the spirituals of his youth is its own call to action, an ode to the deliverance of self-expression in the face of adversity.

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Texas Monthly - How Alvin Ailey's 'Revelations' Has Helped Me Find My Way Back To Texas

One warm spring day in the late nineties, I walked hand in hand with my father as he led our family— my mom, my three siblings, and me—into Houston’s Jones Hall for an Alvin Ailey performance. At eight years old, I was more excited to be wearing my new theater dress for all of Houston to see than I was for the show itself. But that excitement quickly evolved into wonder. I don’t recall the name of the performance we saw, but I distinctly remember feeling admiration and reverence for what the dancers were doing in front of me. Before that day, I’d never seen such a large group of professional Black dancers on stage. Experiencing this performance in my youth was significant; it told me that my people were everywhere, and capable of doing everything.

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The Wall Street Journal - 'Revelations' For Trying Times

Since 2013, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has appeared annually at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. This year is the exception, somewhat. As part of its Ailey All Access series of online presentations, begun March 30 in the wake of the pandemic, the troupe has been working on ways to still offer a June season of a sort. Before the theater shutdown, live performances had been scheduled for June 10 to 14. Instead, starting this Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT, viewers at home will be able to stream a four-part mixed bill, performed on the Koch stage, the was filmed in 2015.