Alvin Ailey
(b. January 5, 1931 - d. December 1, 1989)

Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an American dancer and choreographer who founded the Alivn Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas. In 1943, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles. Alvin developed an early interest in dance.

Initially, he was enthralled by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, which inspired him to pursue a dance career. He took dance classes from choreographer Katherine Dunham, and later studied under Los Angeles, California dance teacher Lester Horton.

Ailey was fascinated by Horton's choreography, which consisted of theater pieces based on pictures by Paul Klee, poems by Garcia Lorca, music by Duke Ellington and Igor Stravinsky, and even Mexican themes. When Lester Horton died in 1953, 22-year-old Ailey was chosen to fill the shoes of his mentor. He became the director and resident choreographer for the Lester Horton Dance Theater. Within one year he choreographed three original dances for Horton's company: Creation of the World, According to St. Francis, and Mourning Morning.

Ailey started his own dance company in 1958 in New York City, featuring primarily African-American dancers. He integrated his dance company in 1963. He also directed; one notable production was Langston Hughes's Jericho-Jim Crow (1964).

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater popularized modern dance throughout the world with his international tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department. As a result of these tours, Ailey's choreographic masterpiece Revelations, based on Ailey's experience growing up as an African American in the South, is among the best-known and most frequently seen of modern dance performances.

Ailey has been memorialized by the renaming of West 61st Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues in New York City as "Alvin Ailey Way"; the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was located on that block at 211 West 61st Street from 1989 until 2005, when it moved to a new, bigger facility at the corner of West 55th Street and Ninth Avenue. Ailey was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988. (Source:




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