Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita

Judith Jamison joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and quickly became an international star. Over the next 15 years, Mr. Ailey created some of his most enduring roles for her, most notably the tour-de-force solo Cry. During the 1970s and 80s, she appeared as a guest artist with ballet companies all over the world, starred in the hit Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, and formed her own company, The Jamison Project. She returned to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989 when Mr. Ailey asked her to succeed him as Artistic Director. In the 21 years that followed, she brought the Company to unprecedented heights – including two historic engagements in South Africa and a celebration of the Company’s 50th anniversary with a 50-city global tour and a year-long series of special performances, collaborations, events and commemorative merchandise including the photographic book Ailey Ascending: A Portrait in Motion and an Ailey Barbie® Doll by Mattel that she designed. 

Ms. Jamison is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a prime time Emmy Award, an American Choreography Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, a National Medal of Arts, a “Bessie” Award, the Phoenix Award, and was presented the Handel Medallion by Mayor Bloomberg, the highest honor awarded by the City of New York.  She was also listed in “The TIME 100: The World’s Most Influential People” and honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Dance Series event.  In 2013, Ms. Jamison was the 50th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance.

As a highly regarded choreographer, Ms. Jamison has created many celebrated works, including Divining (1984), Forgotten Time (1989), Double Exposure (for the Lincoln Center Festival in 2000), HERE . . .NOW. (commissioned for the 2002 Cultural Olympiad in Salt Lake City), Love Stories (with additional choreography by Robert Battle and Rennie Harris, 2004), and Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places) (2009).  Her 1996 ballet Sweet Release featured original music by Wynton Marsalis and Reminiscin' (2005) was inspired by great female jazz artistis and Edward Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks.  In 1993, Ms. Jamison created Hymn as a stirring tribute to Mr. Ailey, which was the centerpiece for the Emmy award-winning PBS "Great Performances: Dance In America" special, A Hymn for Alvin Ailey

Ms. Jamison’s autobiography, Dancing Spirit, was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and published in 1993.  In 2004, under Ms. Jamison’s artistic directorship, her idea of a permanent home for the Ailey company was realized and named after beloved chairman Joan Weill. Ms. Jamison continues to dedicate herself to asserting the prominence of the arts in our culture, and she remains committed to promoting the significance of the Ailey legacy – using dance as a medium for honoring the past, celebrating the present and fearlessly reaching into the future.

Featured News Releases

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.

Fit And Fabulous Fun During National Physical Fitness Month With Virtual Classes and Special Workshops At Ailey Extension

New York, NY – May 5, 2021 – Ailey Extension has kicked off National Physical Fitness Month with an invitation for people around the world to have fun being fit and fabulous during in an array of virtual classes and special workshops. During the month of May, students are encouraged to keep dancing and experience the physical and mental benefits of dance, including improved strength and flexibility, coordination, endurance, and decreased stress. All are welcome to celebrate by moving and grooving with popular instructors during a Hip-Hop Workshop on Thursday, May 6, a special Mother’s Day weekend BellydanceBURN workshop on Saturday, May 8; a Kids & Teens West African Workshop on Saturday, May 15, and a NY Style Mambo Workshop on Saturday, May 22. Two new weekly Beginner Horton and Morning Jumpstart classes give dancers even more opportunities to get their fitness fix on a consistent basis.

Ailey All Access Premieres Special Cry Film Adaptation on Mother's Day In Conjunction With The 50th Anniversary Of The Beloved Work

New York, NY – April 30, 2021 – The Ailey organization is furthering the pioneering vision of its founder by “bringing dance back to the people” and lifting spirits through Ailey All Access, a series of online offerings including streaming of free performance broadcasts, Ailey Extension dance and fitness classes, and more. In a joyful nod to the 50th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s beloved work, Cry, viewers will be treated to a new film adaptation of Jacqueline Green interpreting the extraordinary solo premiering on a Mother’s Day Matinee, on Sunday, May 9 at 3pm EDT. Created as a birthday present for Alvin Ailey’s mother Mrs. Lula Cooper, Cry debuted May 4, 1971 and is dedicated to “all Black women everywhere – especially our mothers.”

Featured Press Coverage

Town_Country_AAADT_Revelations60_SamanthaFigginsKhaliaCampbellJamesGilmer_Feature_Print_9.20

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.