Celebrating the Life of Alvin Ailey

Celebrating the Life of Alvin Ailey

In celebration of what would have been Alvin Ailey’s 85th birthday, dancers and dance lovers gathered at the Ailey Extension for a panel titled “Celebrating the Life of Alvin Ailey”, giving us the history of the dance company, veteran dancer’s relationship with Mr. Ailey and insight on how the company is keeping his legacy alive.

Renee Robinson moderated the panel with former company member Donna Wood, Ailey II’s Artistic Dircetor Emerita Sylvia Waters and Artistic Director Emerita, Judith Jamison. The women started by sharing the story of how they met Mr. Ailey and the paths taken to eventually becoming members of the company. The conversation continued to discuss the company’s early years of members riding in buses from city to city, staying in motels and forming their own “dance family”. With all of the tours taken throughout the US and the world, all agreed Mr. Ailey’s favorite city was Paris.

Alvin Ailey

Company members didn’t feel they were “official” until learning one of Alvin Ailey’s greatest works Revelations, as it allowed them to express the “depth, humanity and spiritual journey of the songs” through dance. When teaching new choreography, Mr. Ailey often gave a story behind the characters, sometimes developing the story as the collaboration of choreography progressed between members. Although steps were given, he always wanted the dancer to reach out of their comfort zone and express a personal freedom of the dance to make it their own. Each member brought their individuality to each piece, but the group always moved as one.

Judith Jamison and Renee Robinson
Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison and Renee Robinson

It was truly a beautiful night. One thing that holds true to the Ailey company to this day is adapting a process of excellence, as members and students are encouraged to implement Mr. Ailey’s view that ‘…dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.’ For more information on upcoming classes within NYC or tour information, visit alvinailey.org.

17 thoughts on “Celebrating the Life of Alvin Ailey

  1. Jaye

    Nice. I love the Ailey companies work and always try to see them when they are in Chicago

    Reply

  2. Stacie

    Sounds like a lovely event. One to remember for sure!

    Reply

  3. Candice

    This sounds like it was an awesome tribute. The Alvin Ailey dance company is incomparable.

    Reply

  4. Allison Jones

    I did not realize Alvin Ailey was 85! I went to one of his companies shows when I was in undergrad and it was an amazing experience.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

    Reply

  5. Siobhan (BeFree Project)

    I saw the Alvin Ailey Dancers a few years ago and it was an amazing experience. Sounds like a great event and it’s beautiful to see his life being celebrated.

    Siobhan
    http://www.befreeproject.com

    Reply

  6. Antoinette

    I’m sure that this was a wonderful event. It’s great to see Mr. Ailey’s legacy thriving.

    Reply

  7. Mimi Green

    This sounds like my kind of event, Emerita Judith is everything. I remember her being on the Cosby Show as well. Very classy.

    Reply

    1. Joanna E

      I totally forgot she was on The Cosby Show. She was sooo real with everyone. It was great to see that side of her.

      Reply

  8. Keisha

    Wonderful tribute. So cool that you got to meet Ms. Judith Jamison! Every time they came to Atlanta (when I lived there) the shows would sell out so fast. I have got to make it a priority to see an Alvin Ailey concert soon!

    Reply

  9. Vashti (veepeejay.com)

    This was a wonderful tribute! The Alvin Ailey dancers are on my list of things to see!

    Reply

    1. Joanna E

      My heart was so full being there. They’re really great. I hope you get to see them.

      Reply

  10. Valerie

    I am a huge Ailey fan! I try to make a show whenever available in DC. Nice tribute to an icon.

    Reply

    1. Joanna E

      Same here. They’re amazing and the panel was just as great.

      Reply

  11. Jonna

    This is awesome. My mom took me to see Alvin Ailey as a teen, and I took my step-daughter when she was taking dance and they came to perform in VA. Amazing!

    Reply

  12. Frugal Flirty N Fab

    Great Post! Hard to believe this would have been his 85th Birthday! I love that the Ailey name and legacy is associated with such class and grace! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    1. Joanna E

      Yes! I’m too young to have seen him perform, but everytime I go to a show, you can see that they perform with excellence

      Reply

Leave a Reply