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The arts & artists: A tribute to Black History



As is fitting for Black History Month & this page, I'd like to present a few articles on some very creative people who have positively contributed to the annals of Black History & the entertainment world at large.  Let's start with the world of dance, of course!

Alvin Ailey was an American choreographer, mostly famous for his founding of American Dance Theater in New York. Ailey was born on 5 Jan 1931, in Texas & as a young man, he briefly studied tap & had attended ballet classes & performances of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company in nightclubs. 

Ailey's passion for dance came to light when he had the opportunity to visit the Lester Horton dance studio;  It is here that Ailey's love for and fine tuning in dance really began. Lester Horton would continue as Ailey's mentor, teaching him both technique & structure from which he would continue to grow as an artist and as a performer.

After several years of studying under Lester Horton, Ailey became anxious & somewhat disappointed at  the direction modern dance was going; at least modern dance as taught by some his of  contemporaries.  The only solution was for him to create his own school of dance, where his techniques & creativity would be taught to all dancers that came through the doors.

In the late 1950s, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was formed. This dynamic dance company would prove to be a world-renown troupe, showcasing its performing arts creativity in modern dance, ballet, jazz, & African dance techniques. Ailey's signature work, Revelations, is his most popular & critically acclaimed piece.

Although Ailey created over 70 works for his company of dancers, he wanted his company to showcase works from other artists, as well. To date, more than 200 works have been performed by over 70 choreographers since the founding of the company.  His work continues to be performed under the leadership & oversight of artistic director, Judith Jamison.

Mr. Ailey's contribution to the annals of Black History & African-American Dance, in particular are too many to number. However, it is certain that his use of various combinations of dance techniques, from several different schools of dance, combined with a heavy emphasis on theatrical expressions, blended to create not only a technique, but a style of dance, which continues today. In 1992, Ailey was inducted into the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater still stands as a premier institution of teaching & training for professional dancers. Mr. Ailey died on 1 Dec 1989, age 58, from AIDS related complications.  

For more information on this topic, visit the following links:


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