Alvin was born during the Great Depression to two working class parents in Rogers, Texas. His father abandoned the family when Alvin was a mere six months old, leaving him and his mother with the struggle of fending for themselves. The inability for Alvin’s mother to find work led to their move to California in 1942, where Alvin was introduced by a classmate to the most influential person that would be the foundation for his future successful career in modern dance, Lester Horton (DeFrantz 1). Alvin was captivated by Lester’s work, which focuses on building a strong body, and made the executive decision to start his dance tra...
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...on of African American culture in dance, Alvin Ailey received many prestigious awards including an honorary doctorates degree in fine arts from Princeton University, the Lifetime Achievement award from the President of the United States of America in the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, and medals from the United Nations and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (DeFrantz 2).
Alvin Ailey is the textbook definition of what it looks like to pursue something you truly believe in, and to create permanent and lasting change with it in society. His work played a key role in the popularization of black culture in times of segregation. Because of Alvin Ailey, black dancers were to able to begin to feel empowered and were able to flourish with his direction. “I wanted to explore black culture, and I wanted that culture to be a revelation.” (DeFrantz 2)
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