Alvin Ailey Video Archive

Collection Data

Ailey, Alvin, 1931-1989 (Choreographer)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1958 - 2016 (Approximate)
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Biographical/historical: Alvin Ailey (1931 - 1989) was an American modern dancer, choreographer and director. He studied in Los Angeles with Lester Horton and later with Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, and Charles Weidman in New York, making his debut in Horton's company in 1950. In 1953, after Horton's death, he took over as director, then in 1954 went to New York to dance in the Broadway musical House of Flowers. In the same year he also appeared in the film Carmen Jones. He gave his first New York concert in 1957 and formed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. In the company's first year he created Blues Suite, a work exploring the pain and anger of his own African-American heritage. It became one of his most popular works, defining his stylistic mix of modern, jazz, classical, and black dance as well as his ability to fuse powerful emotion with a flamboyant theatricality. In 1960, Ailey created the company's signature work Revelations, which was followed by numerous other works, including Masekela Language (1969), Cry (1971), and Night Creature (1975) which has been taken into the repertory of several other companies including London Festival Ballet. He also choreographed works for the Robert Joffrey Ballet, including Feast of Ashes (1962), and for American Ballet Theatre, including River (1970), as well as for musical comedies and for Samuel Barber's opera Antony and Cleopatra (1966). Initially Ailey's company was perceived as an African-American ensemble but over the years it has recruited its dancers from a broad ethnic mix, and has become renowned for the highly individual personalities of its members. In 1969 its associate school was founded and in 1974 its youth company, Alvin Ailey II. From 1964 the company began touring extensively overseas. In 1972 it changed its name to Alvin Ailey City Center Dance Theater when it became resident in that venue but reverted to its original name in 1976. After Ailey's death Judith Jamison took over as director, continuing his vision and his policies.
Type of Resource
Moving image
Other local Identifier: Alvin Ailey Video Archive
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 50c83880-c84a-0133-18cb-00505686a51c
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