Gerald L. Archard
November 22, 2010
2nd block dance 2
Dance Pioneers, Companies, and Choreographers
Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an African American modern dancer, dance teacher and choreographer, who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Ailey was a gifted creator of dance expressing the African American cultural experience and history. His choreographic works live on in performances by the company he founded. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater toured extensively and regularly in Europe and Asia during Ailey's lifetime, making Ailey a familiar name worldwide. His works continue to inspire, uplift, educate, and communicate brilliance to all who witness them. One of his best known works, the choreographic masterpiece, Revelations, based on Ailey's experience growing up as an African American in the South, consistently brings audiences to their feet in enthusiastic, spontaneous ovation.
Ailey was born to his 17-year-old mother, Lula Cooper, in Rogers, Texas. His father abandoned the family when Alvin was only a few months old. Ailey's mother was determined to make a better life for herself and child. She moved numerous times in Ailey's early years. One of the constants in Alvin's childhood was attendance at the True Vine Baptist Church. His mother sang in the choir. Ailey's immersion in the experience of charismatic and enthusiastic worship filled with gospel music and traditional spiritual songs had a lasting affect. Later in life, he choreographed dances to some of the music he first heard as a churchgoing youngster. In 1943, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles, California. Alvin was fourteen years old then. His mother worked often. The teen used his freedom after school to explore the city. Ailey was drawn to the music from the big band jazz clubs while the musicians practiced for their evening shows. He was also drawn to the theater marquees announcing upcoming shows like Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, and others.One day...
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