Photos with Alvin Ailey
BiographyRogers, Texas, USA
Ailey was born in the rural town of Rogers, Texas, USA. His childhood memories and experiences often informed his choreography; the most notable of his works was "Blues Suite", "Cry" (choreographed for Judith Jamison), and "Revelations", a ballet based on Ailey's observations and experiences in Black Baptist churches that was set to traditional Negro Spirituals. "Revelations" has the distinction of being one of the most performed ballets in the world. Beginning his dance career in 1953 with Lester Horton's dance company, Ailey assumed the artistic direction of Horton's company after Horton's death in 1953. Read more... Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, made its debut at the 92nd Street YMHA in New York City. Keeping a unique perspective about dance, he did not use his dance company merely as a vehicle to showcase his own choreography; he developed the Ailey American Dance Theater into a repertory company that provided art and entertainment while institutionalizing modern dances, helping preserve and develop old and new works by a variety of choreographers. Before his death in 1989, he had choreographed seventy-nine ballets, received New York's Handel Medallion, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for lifetime contributions to modern dance, and in 1988, the Kennedy Center honored him for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. Additionally, Ailey's company was sent on several world tours by the U. S. State Department performing in the Soviet Union, France, Denmark, Finland, Morocco, and throughout South America to enthusiastic audiences and critics. After his death in 1989, his protege and former principal dancer Judith Jamison became artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater furthering the Ailey dance tradition and artistic mission that is applauded and acknowledged throughout the world.