The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the most renowned dance companies in the world. The predominately African American modern company was founded by Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) in 1958. Ailey is known for popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African American participation in 20th-century concert dance.

It was in 1960 when Ailey rose to fame with choreography of a breathtaking series of pieces, collectively known today as Revelations. Comprised of “African American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues,” Ailey’s Revelations explores the deepest pain and greatest joys African Americans have experienced since the beginning of time.The music and movements embody both the pain and sorrow of our past but also the hope, perseverance, and light in the fight towards freedom.

Although the pieces focus on what has been the black experience for so many years, Revelations touches a universal audience. On Thursday, I had the privilege of seeing the company perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The five-day tour in D.C. was completely sold out.

Alvin Ailey pictured with Judith Jamison, nytimes

Personally, as a little black girl who danced from the age of three through college, AAADT has been the prototype my eyes. I wanted to be like Judith Jamison, who joined the theater at the age of 22 in 1965, and today is the Artistic Director Emerita.

For such a poised, graceful, mesmerizing Dance Theater to have risen to prominence during such a brutal and burdensome time for African Americans in this nation…


In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ailey to be a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


You can purchase tickets to see them live in a city near you here.

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