Alvin Ailey - linked to his Wikipedia page - was a ground breaker not just in the fact that he founded the first professional dance company for People of Colour, but he was a ground breaker in refining and pushing the style of Modern Dance.
Alvin Ailey was a hard task master in the studio. He demanded a grounding in classical technique as he believed you only moved forward with the traditions of the past. He demanded perfection from his dancers down to placement of fingers. His choreography is some of the most difficult yet joyous to perform.
The Alvin Ailey Dance Company is now often referred to as "Cultural Ambassador to the World" - a title first given to Mr Ailey, but then transferred to the company after his death in 1989.
Please enjoy some pictures of the dance pioneer himself; the company dancers in Ailey-esque forms; and a small melange of my favourite work of his "Pas de Duke". This piece is a modern take on the traditional ballet pas de deux. And if you ever get the chance to see the entire piece live, do it. Whether you are 18 or 80, you will leave with goosebumps. It was originally created for the brilliant Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Just three of the honours awarded to Mr Ailey are....
-Springarn Medal from the NAACP 1977
-Kennedy Centre Honours 1988
-Presidential Medal of Freedom 2014 (Posthumously)
I would have loved to have had just 30 minutes with this man. I can only imagine what I could have learned from him, and that his presence alone would have been both inspiring and humbling.
Mr Alvin Ailey left this world on December 1st, 1989. A beautiful article remembering him and his work can be found HERE.
Dancers of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company (Click on these to really appreciate them)
Melange from Pas de Duke