Alvin Ailey’s Judith Jamison 2017 Workshop by Photojournalist Lisa Pacino
Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison will teach an exclusive Ailey Classics Workshop on January 5, 2017. The occasion is to mark what would’ve been Alvin Ailey’s 86th birthday.
Since 1965, Jamison has been part of Alvin Ailey; for 15 years, she toured the world with the company and became an international dance star with Ailey choreographing her enduring roles. After taking a break to star in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies and to form her own company, The Jamison Project, she returned to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989, when Ailey asked her to succeed him as artistic director. The Alvin Ailey American Dance company is a vital part of New York and the arts. This exclusive workshop takes place at Ailey’s home on 55th Street, The Joan Weill Center for Dance, New York.
“Dancers must engage with people, communicate with movement rather than words and bring their life experiences to the stage,” said Jamison. “My mission is to carry on the ethos that Alvin Ailey established, always remembering his belief that ‘dance came from the people and it must be delivered back to the people.’”
Judith Jamison, a dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorate degrees, and is a master teacher and the recipient of many awards, including a prime-time Emmy Award, a National Medal of the Arts, a Bessie Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, and listing in “TIME 100: The World’s Most Influential People.” In 1993, she published her autobiography Dancing Spirit, which was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jamison continues to dedicate herself to asserting the significance of the Ailey legacy, using dance as a medium for honoring the past, celebrating the present, and reaching into the future.
Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an African-American choreographer, dancer, and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York in 1958. In 1954, he and his friend Carmen De Lavallade were invited to New York to dance in the Broadway show House of Flowers by Truman Capote, starring Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Juanita Hall, and Geoffrey Holder. Ailey then appeared in Sing, Man, Sing starring Harry Belafonte in 1956, and in Jamaica starring Lena Horne in 1957. On September 16, 1966 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut, choreographing the production of Antony and Cleopatra starring Leontyne Price; it was the opening night of the new Met opera house at Lincoln Center. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance. His company gained the nickname “Cultural Ambassador to the World” because of its extensive international touring. Ailey’s choreographic masterpiece Revelations is believed to be the best known and most often seen modern dance performance. In 1977, Ailey was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988. In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ailey to be a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.