The influence of Alvin Ailey

February 9, 2009 3:39:03 PM PST
The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater is celebrating 50 years of American dance. Kemberly Richardson took a look at how Ailey's style has influenced other dancers.Even as a small child, Brooklyn native Ron Brown remembers being captivated at the age of 8 watching the Alvin Ailey dance company perform on stage.

Link to Much More on Alvin Ailey and the American Dance Theater *

Interview with Judith Jamison

*ABC7 Celebrates Black History Month

"When I was in the second grade, I went on a school trip to see Ailey," he said. "And I went home and choreographed a piece. So in 98 or 99 when I got my first commission to Ailey, I was like 'Wow. How did I get here?'"

Artistic director Judith Jamison loved it so much, she invited Brown to create more. Now, he's about to begin his fourth piece for the company.

When Alvin Ailey started the troupe 50 years ago, Jamison says it was part of his mission, sharing the stage and his dancers with other choreographers.

"When they needed a venue to be seen, he gave them the venue," she said. "That's the generosity I'm talking about. There are not choreographers running around saying, 'Oh, yeah, welcome to the stage.' He did that with his peers, when he was a young man and when he was an older man."

Like Ailey, Brown also had stories he wanted to share. So in the shadow of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood where he grew up, he founded the Evidence Dance Company, now on the verge of celebrating its 25th birthday.

It is a milestone they partly owe to the inspiration of Ailey, on this the company's golden anniversary.

"When I'm tired or think that it is too difficult, I see this guy and I think that it's possible," Brown said. "From the very beginning, they had an impact that let people know that it is possible."

Upcoming performances:

Newark, NJ May 8 - 10, 2009
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) - (888) 466-5722

Brooklyn , NY June 9 - 14, 2009
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House - (718) 636 - 4100

Your Ticket to Dance

Bring your ticket stub from any performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater or Ailey II and receive one free class at The Ailey Extension!**

  • For newcomers (first time students)
  • For returning students with the purchase of a 10-class card

    The Ailey Extension Newcomer Offer
    First time-visitors to The Ailey Extension get 2 classes for $25*!

    Winter in the City
    January 7 - February 28, 2009

    The Ailey Extension is a particpant in NYC & Co.'s 2009 Deal-O-Matic Promotion. Bring a friend! When you buy one class, your friend's class is free.***

    Click here to download the coupon

    * Offer valid for fist time visitors to The Ailey Extension only. Offer is available online or in person at The Ailey Extension check-in desk. Offer may not be combined with any other offer or discount.

    ** Offer valid for one year from the date of the performance. Offer valid for first time visitors only. Returning students receive one free class on their purchase of a 10-class card. Offer may not be combined with any other offer or discount.

    *** You must register in-person at The Ailey Extension to receive the free class. Both parties must be present to receive the free class. Offer must be redeemed at time of purchase. Cash only. Offer can not be combined wtih any other offer or discount.

    For more on the Ailey celebration, visit