Alvin Ailey - Essay

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Alvin Ailey Jr. was born January 5, 1931 in Roger, Texas. His parents were Alvin and Lula Elizabeth Ailey. Alvin Jr. was no more than one year old, when his father left him and wife. Both he and his mom moved to Los Angeles, California in 1942. At the age of five, his mother was raped by a white man. Ailey and many other black dancers were prevented from joining many dance companies due to racism. He felt agonized about having to be so guarded about his homosexuality. Ailey died of a rare blood disorder called, blood dyscarsia. Alvin Ailey first started out doing high school football and gymnastics. As he was growing up, he became interested in Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, so he soon began taking tap dancing at a neighbor’s house. Ailey was once a student of Katherine Dunham. Ailey’s pursuit in dancing grew when a close friend took him to stop by a modern dance school ran by Lester Horton- Horton’s school was the first that accepted all races. Ailey had grown somewhat self-conscious as he wondered what opportunities would come to him as a dancer, so after one month of learning at Horton’s school, Ailey left. Ailey was dancing in a nightclub before going back to Horton’s school to finish up his next couple years of training. Unexpectedly, Lester Horton dies and Ailey takes place as artistic director. In the year of 1959, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was born. Due to some personal reasons Ailey gave up dancing and began choreographing more. The Company had many money problems, but they still kept dancing. Dedicated to “all black women everywhere- especially our mothers”, Ailey choreographed Cry, performed by Judith Jamison and it became one of the Company’s most famous pieces. Ailey grew sick, but he continued taking charge of financial and administrative needs of the company. Ailey’s significance to the dance genre is that he started an interracial company during a time where blacks, whites and many more races were segregated. He gave many...
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