Sylvia Waters, Artistic Director Emerita

Sylvia Waters was personally selected by Alvin Ailey in 1974 as Artistic Director of Ailey II and led the company for 38 years.  A graduate of The Juilliard School, Ms. Waters earned a B.S. in Dance prior to moving to Paris, where she appeared regularly on television.  She has also performed in Brussels and at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.  In 1968, Ms. Waters joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and toured with the Company until assuming leadership of Ailey II.  In 1997, she received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York at Oswego, and she has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.  Ms. Waters is a recipient of the Legacy Award as part of the 20th Annual IABD Festival, Syracuse University’s Women of Distinction Award, a Dance Magazine Award, and a “Bessie” Award.  Currently, Ms. Waters leads The Ailey Legacy Residency, a lecture, technique and repertory program for college-level students that looks definitively into the history and creative heritage of Alvin Ailey.

Featured News Releases

Ailey Icons Host Exclusive Workshops And Panels In Celebration Of 60th Anniversary

(New York) December 6, 2018 – In celebration of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 60th Anniversary, Ailey Extension invites people to experience the life, legacy, and artistry of Alvin Ailey through intimate panels and workshops led by his illustrious former dancers. Sylvia Waters will moderate the Growing Up with Alvin Ailey Legacy Panel on December 10, featuring former Ailey stars Sarita Allen, Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, and Desmond Richardson as they share personal stories, individual experiences, and life lessons learned during their tenure dancing for the legendary founder. On January 5, what would have been Alvin Ailey’s 88th birthday, Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison leads an exclusive Celebrating Alvin Ailey Workshop to share cherished memories of Mr. Ailey and teach some of his most well-known choreography.

Featured Press Coverage

Dance Magazine - History In Motion

One way students can explore dance's past is by learning historical repertory. Ailey/Fordham BFA students take Black Traditions in American Dance and World Dance History, which are often coordinated with repertory classes. "The movement shows you a different side of what you're learning in the classroom," says Marie Paspe, a recent graduate of the program, who learned Blues Suite and Revelations from Ailey II artistic director emerita Sylvia Waters.