Alvin Ailey
Every company has what is known as a "signature piece," that is, a work
which expresses something about the artistic direction and the spirit of the
company. For the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater that piece is Revelations.

Choreographed and set to traditional music, Revelations was first performed at
the Ninety-second Street YM-YWHA New York, NY., January 31, 1960. The lead
dancers were Joan Derby, Minnie Marhsall, Merle Derby, Dorene Richardson, Jay

Fletcher, Nathaniel Horne, and Herman Howell and the soloists were Nancy Redi
and Gene Hobgood. The music was performed by the Music Masters Guild Chorus of
the Harlem Branch YMCA under the direction of Frank Thomas. The piece as
originally performed consisted of danced portions and music interleudes grouped
under three broad headings, "Pilgrim of Sorrow," "That Love My Jesus Gives

Me," and "Move, Members, Move." The work was revised extensively a month
after its first performance and was again given at the Ninety-second Street

YM-YWHA. Revelations has been seen in every country that the company has toured
and has been universally acclaimed. Born in Rogers, Texas on January 5, 1931,

Alvin Ailey spent his formative years going to Sunday School and participating
in The Baptist Young People\'s Union. At age twelve, he moved to Los Angeles and,
on a junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, fell in
love with concert dance. Ailey began his formal dance training inspired by the
performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and the classes with Lester

Horton that his friend, Carmen de Lavallade, urged him to take. Horton, the
founder of the first racially integrated dance company in the US, was a catalyst
for Ailey as the young dancer embarked on his professional career. After

Horton\'s death in 1953, Ailey became the director of the Lester Horton Dance

Theater and began to choreograph his own works. In New York, Ailey studied with
many outstanding dance artists, including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles

Weidman, Hanya Holm and Karel Shook, and took acting classes with Stella Adler.

A versatile performer, Ailey won a number of acting roles while continuing to
choreograph and dance professionally. In 1958, Ailey founded his own company,
the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. During the Company\'s first decade, Ailey
created approximately twenty new ballets, among them Hermit Songs and

Reflections in D. These were followed by The River, The Lark Ascending, Love

Songs and many others. Although he created some seventy-nine ballets, Ailey
maintained that the Company was not a repository for his work exclusively. The

Company\'s varied repertory includes works by dance pioneers as well as emerging,
young choreographers. The Company in its forty-year history has performed more
than 180 works by sixty-seven choreographers. Since its inception, the Alvin

Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 19,000,000 people in
forty-eight states, sixty-eight countries and on six continents.Another
component of Ailey\'s commitment to education has been the Company\'s
long-standing involvement in arts-in-education programs, including free
performances, mini-performances, lecture/demonstrations, workshops and master
classes in communities in the US and throughout the world. Ailey died on

December 1, 1989 - and with his death, American dance lost one of its most
luminous stars. Judith Jamison is now the Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey

American Dance Theater.