At the opening night of Ailey II's New York season in April, the last under Sylvia Waters' direction, the house was full of tears, cheers, and - before any dancing had even occured - a standing ovation.
Sylvia Waters, the former dancer who has led the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's second company, Ailey II, for nearly 40 years, will step down as artistic director in June 2012, the company will announce Thursday.
another changing of the guard is taking place at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Sylvia Waters, the longtime artistic director of Ailey II, will retire on June 30, the company plans to announce Thursday.
They're young, talented, athletic and - for the first time in almost 40 years - they're over here. About to make its UK debut at Glasgow's King's Theatre, Ailey II is the youth wing of the hugely popular Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The way Ailey II artistic director Sylvia Waters sees it, "dance is a profession that chooses you." Waters became one of the chosen as a junior high school student in Harlem learning time steps at the hands of a tough gym teacher.
"I was youngish," says Sylvia Waters of the time, in 1968, when she joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. "You can see that I'm trying not to be too specific," she jokes, speaking on a cell from a coffee shop in New York City.
Once, while on tour, Alvin Ailey noticed a young company member gazing wistfully out of the bus window. "She must be thinking about her son," he said to himself. And Sylvia Waters was.
Sylvia Waters and Judith Jamison