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

Shondaland_AAADT_JudithJamison_60thAnniversary_Feature_05.0319

Shondaland - Judith Jamison Takes Us Through 60 Years Of Alvin Ailey's Brilliance

When Judith Jamison joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965, there were 10 dancers in the company. Today, six decades after Ailey and a small group of black dancers gave their inaugural performance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, his legacy now includes more than 250 original ballets, 30 dancers, a robust educational and training program, and sold-out performances all across the globe.

OutMagazine_AileyII_AAADT_AlvinAileyGetsHisFlowers_FashionSpread_TroyPowell_DanielHarder_PRINTFeature_May2019Issue

OUT Magazine - Dance-Revolution

Troy Powell remembers the late Alvin Ailey fondly. The legendary choreographer saw something in Powell at nine years old and recruited him for a children’s program after leading a masterclass at his elementary school. Perhaps that’s why, when asked about Ailey’s legacy, Powell says simply, “It's magical.”