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 II, The Next Generation Of Dance, Returns To U.S. Stages Led By New Artistic Director Francesca Harper

NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 1, 2022 — Ailey II, merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best early-career dance talent with the passion and creative vision of outstanding emerging and established choreographers, returns to stages across the country this winter. Ailey II Artistic Director Francesca Harper—an internationally renowned performer, choreographer, director, and multi-disciplinary artist—is nurturing new creative voices and propelling the Company forward during her inaugural season. Trained at The Ailey School (and the daughter of the late Denise Jefferson, director of The Ailey School 1984-2010), Ms. Harper brings fresh perspectives to Mr. Ailey’s legacy. Program highlights from the repertory for the national tour and the New York City season featuring four new works and one world premiere include dances by Alvin Ailey, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle, William Forsythe, Francesca Harper, Ailey company member Yannick Lebrun, and Andrea Miller.

Ailey II 2012 New York Season At The Ailey Citigroup Theater - Farewell Season Of Esteemed Artistic Director Sylvia Waters

Ailey II, the youthful and gifted second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will return to its home, The Ailey Citigroup Theater, from April 18-29 for a highly anticipated two-week season – the last led by 38-year Artistic Director Sylvia Waters. The 14 exciting performances experienced through two dynamic programs come on the heels of a successful North American tour to over 35 cities and an array of critically-acclaimed performances in Bermuda, Germany and Greece.

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.