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Alvin ailey

The meaning of «alvin ailey»

Alvin Ailey Jr. (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989), was an American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT). He created AAADT and its affiliated Ailey School as havens for nurturing black artists and expressing the universality of the African-American experience through dance. His work fused theater, modern dance, ballet, and jazz with black vernacular, creating hope-fueled choreography that continues to spread global awareness of black life in America. Ailey's choreographic masterpiece Revelations is recognized as one of the most popular and most performed ballets in the world.[1][2][3]

In this work he blended primitive, modern and jazz elements of dance with a concern for black rural America.[4] On July 15, 2008, the United States Congress passed a resolution designating AAADT a “vital American cultural ambassador to the World.”[5][6] That same year, in recognition of AAADT's 50th anniversary, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared December 4 "Alvin Ailey Day" in New York City while then Governor David Paterson honoured the organization on behalf of New York State.[7]

Born in Rogers, Texas, at the height of the Great Depression in the violently racist and segregated south, during his youth Ailey was barred from interacting with mainstream society. Abandoned by his father when he was three months old, Ailey and his mother were forced to work in cotton fields and as domestics in white homes—the only employment available to them. As an escape, Ailey found refuge in the church, sneaking out at night to watch adults dance, and in writing a journal, a practice that he maintained his entire life. Even this could not shield him from a childhood spent moving from town to town as his mother sought employment, being abandoned with relatives whenever she took off on her own, or watching her get raped at the hands of a white man when he was five years old.[8][9]

Looking for greater job prospects, Ailey's mother departed for Los Angeles in 1941. He arrived a year later, enrolling at George Washington Carver Junior High School, and then graduating into Thomas Jefferson High School. In 1946 he had his first experience with concert dance when he saw the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo perform at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium. This awakened an until then unknown spark of joy within him,[10] though he did not become serious about dance until 1949 when his classmate and friend Carmen De Lavallade dragged him to the Melrose Avenue studio of Lester Horton.[11][12]

Ailey studied a wide range of dance styles and techniques—from ballet to Native American inspired movement studies—at Horton's school, which was one of the first racially integrated dance schools in the United States.[13][14] Though Horton became his mentor,[15] Ailey did not commit to dancing full-time; instead he pursued academic courses, studying romance languages and writing at UCLA.[16][17] He continued these studies at San Francisco State in 1951. Living in San Francisco he met Maya Angelou, then known as Marguerite Johnson,[18] with whom he formed a nightclub act called "Al and Rita".[19] Eventually, he returned to study dance with Horton in Los Angeles.[20]

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