“People come to see beauty, and I dance to give it to them.”-Judith Jamison
Have you ever had the pleasure of witnessing the beauty of an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater production? In a word: breathtaking.
I went to a show at BAM in Brooklyn a few years ago, and I can still remember the chills I got while I watched the dancers float across the stage. Their movement, synergy and passion came together to create a brand new color that doesn’t have a name in the existing spectrum.
Today I’m recognizing the company because I learned that its exquisitely talented Artistic Director for the past 22 years, Judith Jamison, will be stepping down this year.
Judith is not just a leader; not just a choreographer. She is a force, a legend, an inspiration. In the beginning of her career she was a powerful and evocative dancer. She trained with some of the biggest names in ballet, including Agnes de Mille. After some time with the American Ballet Theater, she joined the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in 1965, where she became Alvin Ailey‘s muse. During her 15 year dance career with the company, Mr. Ailey built several shows around her incredible talent.
Judith went on to have a very rich career in several platforms of dance, but where she may have had the most impact on audiences was when she was behind the scenes as the Artist Director at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a role she took on in 1989, after Mr. Ailey’s untimely death. Building upon the founder’s model to incorporate several styles of dance—ballet, modern, jazz and African—Judith’s productions were (and are) a magical journey through dance history.
Judith’s career thus far has been an inspiration to dancers and choreographers everywhere, but particularly to women and people of color.
Thank you, Judith Jamison. Because of you, little brown girls in the tutus and toe shoes will always have strong role model in you and the dancers you have nurtured throughout your career. You are a beautiful face, voice and spirit of a community.
“So many people dwell on negativity and I’ve survived by ignoring it: it dims your light and it’s harder each time to turn the power up again.”—Judith Jamison
*Tell me about your Ailey dance experiences here in my comments section!*