Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Artist Study: Mr. Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey, Jr. (January 5, 1931December 1, 1989) was an American modern dancer and choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on 92nd Street in New York City. He died at the age of 58.
Born in Rogers, Texas on January 5, 1931, Alvin Ailey was introduced to dance by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. His formal training in dance began with an introduction to Lester Horton's classes by his friend, Carmen de Lavallade.
When Ailey began creating dance, he drew upon his "blood memories" of Texas, the
blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work "Revelations". He concentrated on ballets that used blues, folk songs, and gospel to celebrate the southern Black Experience in America.
Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Alvin Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work. Today, the company continues Mr. Ailey's mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones to add to the repertoire. In all, more than 200 works by over 70 choreographers have been performed by the Company.

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