Reflections of Alvin.Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a modern dance company based in New York, New York. It was founded in 1958 by choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey. It is made up of 30 dancers as well as artistic director Judith Jamison and associate artistic director Masazumi Chaya. has expanded its mission over forty years to include outreached and education.
Blues Suite brought the relatively unknown Alvin Ailey Noun 1. Alvin Ailey - United States choreographer noted for his use of African elements (born in 1931)
Ailey to popular attention in 1958, when his ad hoc For this purpose. Meaning "to this" in Latin, it refers to dealing with special situations as they occur rather than functions that are repeated on a regular basis. See ad hoc query and ad hoc mode. troupe, Alvin Ailey and Company, first presented his choreography at the 92nd Street Y in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. . The occasion was to mark the end of what Ailey referred to as his "apprentice years." The troupe consisted of seven dedicated show dancers like himself who had volunteered their faith, talent, and, at times, savings to make the performance possible. They banded together idealistically to dance on a single Sunday afternoon; on Monday evening they returned to paying work in various Broadway musicals.
Now in its fortieth year and known as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, that transitory ensemble has grown to two full-time companies that have performed in forty-eight countries. The senior company was the first modern dance troupe to appear in both the Soviet Union and in the People's Republic People's Republic
A political organization founded and controlled by a national Communist party. of China. A fully staffed school in New York City has an enrollment of 3,500 students; three AileyCamps expand the dance awareness of preteens, while an affiliation with Fordham University Fordham University (fôr`dəm), in New York City; Jesuit; coeducational; founded as St. John's College 1841, chartered as a university 1846; renamed 1907. Fordham College for men and Thomas More College for women merged in 1974. offers a degree program. The company's current season at City Center runs from December 2 to January 3, 1999.
Most modern dance companies have historically had difficulty surviving after the passing of the founder, but the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has flourished since Ailey's death on December 1, 1989. Along with the dedication of his successors, Ailey's own 'concept of a repertory company repertory company
A company that presents and performs a number of different plays or other works during a season, usually in alternation.
Noun has made continuity possible. He never considered his troupe merely a tool for his personal expression. Almost alone among modern choreographers, Ailey believed that a repertory should be like a gallery that exhibits the works of many artists instead of only one. The company will celebrate its fortieth year by presenting the works of a dozen choreographers, including artistic director Judith Jamison, two present company members, and a guest from France.
Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas Rogers is a town in Bell County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,117 at the 2000 census. Geography
Rogers is located at (30.932391, -97.228729)GR1. , in 1931, and after a little more than a decade of marginal poverty was taken to Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. by his mother, who thought a young black woman like herself could find better-paying work there. This change from rural Texas to a major city provided Ailey the artistic nourishment that ruled the rest of his life. He had the opportunity to see the glamorous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
Ballet company formed in Monte Carlo in 1932. The name derived from Sergey Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, which dissolved after his death in 1929. Under René Blum and Col. W. , and the strikingly vibrant Katherine Dunham with her revues Tropics and Le Jazz Hot. Years later he would restage an evening-long program of one of Dunham's revues on his own company.
California afforded him two opportunities that rural Texas of the 1940s did not: to attend a challenging high school and to study with modern dance pioneer Lester Horton Lester Horton (January 23, 1906 - November 2, 1953) was an American dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
Lester Horton was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Choosing to work in California (three thousand miles away from the center of modern dance - New York City), Horton . At the time, however, Ailey was more interested in drawing and literature. Later, at Los Angeles City College Los Angeles City College, known as LACC, is a public community college in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California. A part of the Los Angeles Community College District, it is located on Vermont Avenue south of Santa Monica Boulevard. and UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX , he developed his bookish book·ish
1. Of, relating to, or resembling a book.
2. Fond of books; studious.
3. Relying chiefly on book learning: interests and his talent for language. In 1949 he transferred to San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden State College and studied at the Welland Lathrop--Anna Halprin studio. With dance student Marguerite Angelos, he worked up an act known as "Al and Rita" for local club gigs. After they split up, he began working at the New Orleans New Orleans (ôr`lēənz –lənz, ôrlēnz`), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded Champagne Supper Club Noun 1. supper club - usually a small luxurious nightclub
cabaret, night club, nightclub, nightspot, club - a spot that is open late at night and that provides entertainment (as singers or dancers) as well as dancing and food and drink; "don't expect a good meal at , and she later achieved fame as the writer Maya Angelou Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled until (UTC) due to vandalism. .
Ailey resumed his studies with Horton after Lon Fontaine, who booked acts, took him to Los Angeles with his group. Horton was totally involved with the whole range of theatrical presentation of dance, an approach that spoke directly to Ailey's own interests. He caught the "red and gold" disease, as Jean Cocteau characterized infatuation with the theater. Horton's theatrically oriented company was the crucible in which Ailey had developed. Its interracial in·ter·ra·cial
Relating to, involving, or representing different races: interracial fellowship; an interracial neighborhood. policy made it the first modern dance company to be integrated with Asian, black, and Caucasian members, and it gave Ailey performing experience unavailable elsewhere.
After Horton's death Ailey was chosen to lead the company for its second appearance at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, summer dance concert series held annually near Lee, Mass., in the Berkshires. The site, originally an 18th-century farm, was purchased by the American modern dancer Ted Shawn in 1930, and three years later it became the home of his Men , in 1954. Unfortunately, none of the four dances he had choreographed were well received by reviewers, or by Ted Shawn, the Pillow's founder and autocratic doyen, who made it clear that he thought the more experienced Carmen Carmen
throws over lover for another. [Fr. Lit.: Carmen; Fr. Opera: Bizet, Carmen, Westerman, 189–190]
See : Faithlessness
the cards repeatedly spell her death. [Fr. de Lavallade or James Truitte should have been artistic director. Despite the rebuff, Ailey resolved to make his way in New York City, learning his craft in the practical and professional school of Broadway shows. Four years later Blues Suite, a work pulled from the depths of his own experiences, would reveal a new maturity and theatrical savvy.
The Ailey company in the fifties and sixties would include de Lavallade, the late Truitte, Geoffrey Holder, and other black dancers who had learned their craft from Horton. This season includes a new production by Holder of his Prodigal PRODIGAL, civil law, persons. Prodigals were persons who, though of full age, were incapable of managing their affairs, and of the obligations which attended them, in consequence of their bad conduct, and for whom a curator was therefore appointed.
2. Prince (1967), choreographed and danced in his own brilliantly hued hued
Having a given hue, aspect, or character. Often used in combination: rosy-hued; dark-hued. set and costume designs [see Presstime press·time
The time at which a publication, especially a newspaper, is submitted for printing. News, page 32].To this day, the company follows the Horton pattern in its composition and casting. Horton's work as a choreographer has been honored with revivals of Salome (1934) and Liberian Suite (1952), the latter with a score by Duke Ellington. For Ailey, this was a double-barreled acknowledgment of his creative roots. During the nation's bicentennial bi·cen·ten·ni·al
1. Happening once every 200 years.
2. Lasting for 200 years.
3. Relating to a 200th anniversary.
A 200th anniversary or its celebration. Also called bicentenary. year of 1976, Ailey conceived and directed "Ailey Celebrates Ellington," a festival of the music and a celebration of Ellington as a classical jazz composer; fourteen dances, half by Ailey and half by other choreographers, were performed. The music was played by the Ellington orchestra under the direction of Duke's son, Mercer. Ailey presented Night Creature (1975); Black, Brown & Beige (1976); The Mooche (1975); Reflections in D (1963); Hidden Rites (1973); Three Black Kings (1976); and Pas de "Duke" (1976). Louis Falco was given free rein to choreograph Caravan, a charming romp to a medley of Ellington themes that was far and away the most elaborately costumed and designed dance of the festival. It was so elaborate and technically so difficult to handle that the company could never afford to tour it. Ailey pulled out all the stops in honor of the composer.
Ailey had spoken with Ellington about a retrospective, and preliminary plans had been sketched out. In the festival program, he said, "Duke also liked to have his music danced. He thought that dance was a major means of communicating what he was trying to get through to people, which was a love of life and a caring about mankind." Adding his own commitment, Ailey remarked, "I loved him, I was stunned by him, I was inspired by him. He wrote the heartbeat and rhythms of this century, and more than that, he celebrated the beauty and uniqueness of man. And that is what I would like to do in the Ellington celebration."
As are all choreographers, Ailey was also inspired by his dancers, in particular Jamison, his successor as artistic director, and Dudley Williams, whom he regularly featured in repertory and for whom he also created showcase numbers. Part of the bicentennial year celebration was the glittery Pas de "Duke" for Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov that showed their individual talents to wonderful advantage. It fell into the category of a pas d'occasion, and a very special patriotic occasion it was. Williams's solo, Love Songs (1972), celebrated his lyrical intensity, which could be seen regularly in repertory, especially in the "Fix Me, Jesus" section of Ailey's signature piece, Revelations (1960). Jamison was the outstanding female star of the company, and Ailey celebrated women's endurance in Cry (1971), which was made "for all black women everywhere, especially our mothers." Jamison regularly brought the house down with it.
Outreach was a way of life with Ailey before it became a catchword in the performing arts. His companies regularly made school visits to demonstrate their work to students who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to see professional dance, and his school had--and has--an active scholarship program. Expanding the idea of arts awareness to include other concerns, the company developed the intensive six-week summer program called the AileyCamp.
Edgar Koerner, president of the Children's Aid Society
The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is a private charitable organization based in New York City. in New York City, describes the program: "The Ailey administration came to us with the concept of an intensive six-week session for eleven- to thirteen-year-olds to take place in the summer. We maintain centers in a variety of locations throughout the city, and we settled on Washington Heights for the program. The cost was shared fifty-fifty. We provided the physical plant and the participants with whatever incidental assistance we were in a position to give. The Ailey company supplied the teaching staff and the program. We post notices in our centers describing its availability, and from the children who respond, we and the Ailey company select participants, who receive dance instruction in a variety of styles, then write about their experiences in the program. We have counselors available to assist the participants in any way that we can.
"At the end of each session, scholarships are offered for further study at the Ailey school to those who show the interest and have the desire for a professional career. The bulk of the program is its dance classes, but the kids also have regular dally writing assignments, which help develop traditional academic skills. Ronni Flowers, a former member of the Ailey company, ran the program for the first four formative years. The program is now in its fifth year, and we are very pleased with it. It is well conceived." AileyCamps had previously been established in Kansas City (1989) and Baltimore (1992), with equally encouraging results.
On the college level, the company has established a degree program with Fordham University, located, as is the Ailey school, conveniently near the Lincoln Center area. This bachelor of fine arts The Bachelor of Fine Arts, usually abbreviated BFA, is the standard undergraduate degree for students seeking a professional education in the visual or performing arts. Also named in some countries the Bachelor of Creative Arts or BCA. program admitted its first group of thirty-five Ailey students this year; along with qualifying academically, as all entering Fordham freshmen must, they also had to be judged by the Ailey school as possessing superior dance qualifications. Anna Marie Forsythe, administrator of the program at the Ailey School, quipped, "in terms of an SAT score, they would measure 1600."
Professor Edward Bristow, codirector of the B.F.A. program, says, "They are self-selectors, and motivators have a good chance of graduating with the degree. The students will take two courses a semester in a program that is flexible enough to accommodate their needs. We have classes in the undergraduate college from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., which will enable us to offer students the courses they need at times when they can take them." As with the AileyCamps, the cost is shared by the two institutions, with Ailey providing about 60 percent of the tuition and Fordham 40 percent through grants and scholarships.
The economic picture has not always been so bright for the Ailey organization. From season to season through the sixties and early seventies, its debt grew, threatening the company's very existence despite its growing popularity. The need for a board of professionals, who loved the company and would take a longer view of its direction, and financial security became too obvious to be ignored. The hard decisions were made, but the basic package of a school and two companies was retained and built upon. The current anniversary season is dedicated to Patricia and Philip Laskawy, two longtime, generous friends. And for those who would like to hear the music that inspired the choreographers over the past forty years, a two-CD set has been published by V2 records. It includes selections from spirituals to Ellington and all the musical stops in between.
Don McDonagh is a contributing editor of Dance Magazine.