Alvin Ailey is a multicultural modern dancer known for his great accomplishments in dance and choreography. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and throughout his lifetime created some 79 ballets, many of which have appeared in the repertoire of major dance companies. It was on a junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, he fell in love with concert dance. He became inspired by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and classes with Lester Horton. Alvin Ailey would go on to create a legacy of versatility and cultural expression. *
Alvin Ailey, Jr. was born on January 5, 1931 in Roger, Texas. Ailey’s parents separated when he was five years old leaving his mom to raise him alone. Ailey and his mom moved to Los Angles in 1942 where his mother found work in an aircraft factory. At this time it was common for African-Americans to make this move as there were lucrative job opportunities. Ailey experienced a very rough childhood. He grew up in the time of segregation and witnessed his mother be victimized by five white men. This childhood incident would make him afraid of white people. During high school Ailey became interested in athletics and joined his high school gymnastics team and played football. In 1949,Lester Horton, who's school was the first multi-racial dance school in the United States, became a major influence to Ailey, providing him with both artistic technique and a solid dance foundation. Carmen De Lavallade and Ailey moved to New York in 1954 to dance in the Broadway production of “House of Flower”. Ailey was able to study and perform with many foremost modern and ballet dance teachers such as, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and Karle Shook. First Ailey considered becoming a teacher and entered the University of California in Los Angeles to study languages. Ailey looked up to Horton as a mentor he was really impressed with Horton’s technique. When...
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