Ailey, Alvin, Jr.

Ailey, Alvin, Jr.

(ā`lē), 1931–89, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Rogers, Tex. Ailey studied in Los Angeles with Lester HortonHorton, Lester,
1906–53, American modern dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Indianapolis. Moving to California in 1928, Horton formed his own company in Los Angeles and also performed in theater, films, and nightclubs.
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, whose strong, dramatic style and views about multiracial casting influenced his choreography and artistic direction. He moved to New York in 1954, where he studied dance with Martha GrahamGraham, Martha,
1894–1991, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Pittsburgh. Her family moved from Allegheny, Pa., to Santa Barbara, Calif., when she was 14.
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 and Charles WeidmanWeidman, Charles,
1901–75, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Lincoln, Neb. Weidman performed with the troupe formed by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn from 1920 to 1927, when he and Doris Humphrey left to form their own company and school.
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 and acting with Stella Adler. In 1958 he formed his own company, the American Dance Theater, which, multiracial since 1963, has been internationally acclaimed and has brought recognition to many African-American and Asian dancers. Typically, Ailey's work combines jazz, modern, and African dance elements.

In addition to Revelations (1960), which is generally viewed as his masterpiece, Ailey's best-known works include Blues Suite (1958), Creation of the World (1961), Roots of the Blues (1961), Hermit Songs (1962), Cry (1971), Hidden Rites (1973), Night Creature (1975), and At the Edge of the Precipice (1983). He also choreographed a series of ballets to music by Duke EllingtonEllington, Duke
(Edward Kennedy Ellington), 1899–1974, American jazz musician and composer, b. Washington, D.C. Ellington made his first professional appearance as a jazz pianist in 1916.
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, notably The River (1970), and created works for other companies, including the American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, the Paris Opéra Ballet, and the La Scala Opera Ballet. After his death, Judith JamisonJamison, Judith
, 1944–, American dancer and choreographer, b. Philadelphia. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance, and made her debut with the American Ballet Theatre in 1964.
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 replaced him as artistic director of his company which, renamed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, remains one of the country's most popular and respected dance troupes. In 2011 Jamison retired as artistic director and Robert Battle, a choreographer long associated with the company, succeeded her. The company's first resident choreographer, Jamar Roberts, was named in 2019.

Bibliography

See his autobiography (with A. P. Bailey), Revelations (1995).

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