As the first African-American to create a multicultural, international concert dance company, Alvin Ailey’s dance company has been dubbed the “cultural ambassador of the world” (Gorman 36). Through his Alvin Ailey Dance Company, he addressed the racism and injustice faced by ethnic minorities across the globe. Ailey clearly revolutionized African American participation in 20th century concert dance as well as revived interest in modern dance. As an extremely talented dancer and choreographer, Ailey’s success is attributed to his dedication and passion for expression through dance, but what is often overlooked is his resilience to the hardships he faced, the mentors he had, and the opportunities he was given. Throughout his life, Alvin was challenged by racism, the poverty of the Great Depression, the struggle of being raised by a single parent, he own homosexuality and a drug addiction. His resilience and positive out look on life molded him into the creative and inspirational dancer and choreographer he became and his work was pivotal in the evolution in modern dance.
Ailey’s story is a fascinating one, as an African-American child of the Great Depression and a single mother, Alvin was destine to be challenged by society. He was born in Rogers, Texas to a teen-mother on January 5th, 1931 (DeFrantz 43). In his autobiography he remembers his Texas childhood through the music and traditions of the African-American, Southern Baptist church, as well as the honky-tonk atmosphere of local juke joints and the blues music of traveling musicians. Many dance critics attribute these contrasting experiences to have influenced his best works (Gorman 36).
At the age of twelve Ailey and his mo...
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...ican dance in the 20th century, but for everyone. He revolutionized the style and techniques of modern dance and revived its popularity. More importantly still, he instilled a set of core values in his dancers, company and generations to come that promote a resilient and positive mindset. Alvin Ailey is an iconic dancer in the history of modern dance across the globe and his crusade to unit people of all background continues even after his death. Rep. Nadler said it best at the AAADT Golden Anniversary celebration, “‘The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a cultural treasure not just for New York City, but for the entire country… AAADT is rightfully recognized as one of the world 's premier modern dance companies. I applaud them on their 50th anniversary and look forward to their continuing contributions to the world of dance’” (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
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