Saturday, 20 December 2014

Senior Saturday ... Mr Alvin Ailey ...

If any dancer gives you a blank look when you ask them who Alvin Ailey was, slap them..... hard.

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.

Alvin Ailey


 Dancers of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company (Click on these to really appreciate them)

Melange from Pas de Duke


Jimmy said...

Believe or not, I was at an after party for the American Dance Festival, and met him there. I had no idea who he was but he was the most gorgeous man inside and out. That was 1980 in Durham NC. I think it took me three days to get home (a couple of miles away). No hanky panky with him, but there were several dance companies there.

Damien said...

Oh my Grouchy.

How wonderful for you!

Was he as gracious as I have heard?

Jimmy said...

Well, we didn't talk more than a few sentences. But he had this feeling of serenity and he commanded the room just by his presence. You just knew he was someone+ special. I ran into him again a couple of years later, at a friends garden shop. but We did not speak however we checked each other out. LOLOLOL

Damien said...

lol -that's awesome - thanks for sharing Grouchy.