|Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, and Robert Battle. |
Photo by Eric N. Hong, Andrew Eccles, and Brian Guillaux
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater began on March 30, 1958 with a debut performance, featuring late master choreographer, Alvin Ailey and a professional ensemble of black modern dancers.
Forming into a resident dance company in 1960, the dance theater began establishing its reputation in the 60s with Alvin Ailey’s classic masterpiece, Revelations, along with gaining international status under the presidential selection of John F. Kennedy’s “President’s Special International Program for Cultural Presentations.”
|Loretta Abbott and Alvin Ailey in Revelations.|
Photo by Nicola Cernovitch
In 1963, the company continued to solidify its history in modern dance, performing in Duke Ellington’s "My People: First Negro Centennial" – Ellington’s historical composition, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. From the mid-sixties through decade’s end, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continued a series of historical performances, as Ailey choreographed Anthony and Cleopatra, starring Leontyne Price, to an opening performance at the 1968 Olympics and a subsequent performance at The White House for President Johnson.
|Alvin Ailey and Carmen de LaVallade.|
Photo courtesy of Ailey Archives
Closing out the 60s with the establishment of a school, the dance company continued performing throughout the world and locally with an early 70s performance of Ailey’s Cry, further bringing to light Ailey’s choreographic mastery and Judith Jamison’s magnificent talent as a dancer.
Photo by Normand Maxon
From then on, a timeline of innumerable awards and performances followed under the directions of Founder, Alvin Ailey and Artistic Director Emerita, Judith Jamison, both receiving prestigious awards and medals along with the company itself, which continues to reign as masters of modern dance under current directions of Artistic Director, Robert Battle, and Associate Artistic Director, Masazumi Chaya who are carrying on the legacy of Ailey’s modern dance movement with a troupe of professional dancers.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is currently on a 23-city North American tour continuing through May, followed by a return to New York’s Lincoln Center in June. For complete tour engagements, visit http://www.alvinailey.org/2014-north-american-tour