Jacqueline Green was a shy 13-year-old when her mother, considering possible schools in Baltimore, observed two qualities that her daughter possessed. “You’re the artsy child,” Ms. Green recalled her saying. “You’re flexible.” Soon after, Ms. Green found herself at a dance audition for Baltimore School for the Arts. It was not only her first audition, it was also her first ballet class. “I had on Payless tights and shoes, and I don’t know where we found a leotard,” Ms. Green said. “I had my hair slicked back in this bun and I thought: ‘People actually do this? Holding your arms out is tiring.’”
In March of 1958, Alvin Ailey and a small group of dancers first performed at the 92nd street "Y" on the Upper West Side. Nine years later, he started the Ailey School. Now, 50 years later, the school continues celebrating Ailey's vision. "He could see almost the future in dance, and what he did, he did with such heart and honesty and love that it still is alive today," co-director Tracy Inman said. And it shapes these dancers are both personally and professionally. Young people from all over the world go there to learn and perfect their craft. Guided by Mr. Ailey's mission that dance is for everybody, the young people pour every ounce of their souls and bodies into their craft. The Alley School has trained 75% of the current members of the first company.
A dinner-and-dance homage paid tribute to Alvin Ailey, as his company turns 60, at this season's opening gala in New York.