Alvin Ailey was a dancer, choreographer, and teacher whose vision and leadership lead him to create one of the major art institutes of our time. The famous Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. A choreographer is a person who creates dance compositions and plans and arranges dance movements and patterns for dances. Movement is a language as rich and expressive as written or spoken language. We understand and use movement language so naturally, we are often unaware of the many ways we use it to communicate. We use movement in expressing emotions, giving directions, teaching, telling a story, and many more. He was born January 5, 1931, in the central Texas town of Rogers, in Bell County. He died in New York December 1, 1989, of blood dyscrasia. Alvin was the only child of his mother, Lula. His father abandoned them when he was six months old. Alvin and his mother moved to Navasota Texas, eventually settling in Los Angeles at the age of twelve. In order for them to provide for themselves they had to pick cotton, and do domestic work.
At an early age Alvin showed interest in art by drawing pictures. When Alvin first discovered dance and fell in love with concert dance, he was at a junior high school field trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlos. Inspired by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, eventually he took dance classes from choreographer Katherine Dunham. But his most important influence came from choreographer Lester Horton, the founder of the first racially integrated dance company in this country, that Alvin started a journey to his professional dance career.
Alvin began studying with Horton in 1949, leaving behind his romance language studies at UCLA. In 1953 after Horton's death, the year Alvin made his performance debut; Alvin became the director of the Lester Horton Dance Theater and began choreographing his own work. In 1954, Alvin and his friend Carmen de Lavallade were invited to New York to dance in the Broadway show,...
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