The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Photograph Collection documents the dance company's performers and performances. Photographs of performers include portraits of dance company director Alvin Ailey (1955-1980s), individual and group portraits of dancers, portraits of performance singers who accompanied the dancers, and a few snapshots of the dancers. A Carl Van Vechten photograph of Ailey (1955) may be from his Broadway theater career, prior to the start of his Company. Also depicted is Ailey teaching dance to gym team members at Cortland State College (New York). Dancer portraits consist primarily of publicity shots. Several works capture individual dancers during actual performances.Performance photographs are arranged alphabetically by title and consist of posed publicity works and action shots taken during various performances. Amongst the works represented are "Blues Suite," "Cry," and "Revelations." Performances document the national and international appearances of the Company, with performances in New York, California, Australia, London, Paris, and other places. Photographs also document a guest appearance by Patrick Dupond, the principal dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet. With the exception of two snapshots, the collection does not provide a view of the Company's daily life of dance rehearsals, workouts, travel shots, etc. Neither does the collection document the Alvin Ailey Dance School.
Biographical/historical: The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the major modern dance repertory companies in the United States. The Company made its debut with a concert in March 1958 at New York City's Y.M.H.A. at 92nd street. The Company's founder and artistic director, Alvin Ailey, is recognized as one of the most influential African American artists of modern dance.
Biographical/historical: Born in 1931 in Rogers, Texas, Alvin Ailey began his dance career with the Lester Horton Dance Theatre. While Ailey danced with Lester Horton's Company, he choreographed his first two works, "Mourning, Morning" and "According to St. Francis", during the summer of 1954. Ailey was then invited to work with choreographer Herbert Ross in New York City. In New York City, Ailey worked to create a dance company that would explore black traditions through contemporary dance.
Biographical/historical: Ailey's Company embraced modern, jazz, ballet, and Afro-Caribbean dance styles, and an array of music (i.e., clasical, gospel, and jazz). Ailey created great dancers and provided a home for a number of choreographers. He also helped a number of his own dancers, such as Ulysses Dove, George Faison, and Judith Jamison and others, to delvelop as choreographers.
Biographical/historical: Throughout the 1980s Ailey suffered from poor health. He died on December 1, 1989, at the age of 58. Judith Jamison, a leading member of the Company who had also experimented with her own company the "Jamison Project" in Philadelphia (1980-1988), became the artistic director of the Company in 1989.
Extent: 359 items (5 boxes, 4.2 lin. ft.)
Extent: 358 photographic prints :silver gelatin, b&w ;21 x 27 cm. and smaller.