Learning to dance like Ailey

February 16, 2009 3:26:19 PM PST
Alvin Ailey is celebrating 50 years of American dance. It's more than just a dance theater.

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

Interview with Judith Jamison

*ABC7 Celebrates Black History Month

You can learn to dance just like Ailey - no matter what your age or skill level.

"Alvin Ailey always talked about giving dance back to the people and that's what the ailey extension is about and i'm proud to be a part of that" said Suzanne Africa Engo, a student at the Alvin Ailey dance school.

She is part of a passionate group of people who make dance an integral part of their lives.

Suzanne started taking classes at the Alvin Ailey dance school a year ago, and it reshaped her world. She lost more than 100 pounds.

"I always take one class that challenges me technique wise and then I take one class that is fun and cardio," she said.

Their building in Midtown is a place the company can finally call home. It is the largest site dedicated to dance in the United States.

In March of 2005, the troupe moved into the 75,000-square-foot space, prominently located at 55th Street and Ninth Avenue. It's filled with 12 different studios and is considered headquaters for all Ailey operations.

"We have his notes (which say), 'I would love to have a school I would like to be the center where dancers could come to study from all over the world,'" Artistic Director Judith Jamison said.

The school is unique in that it caters to everybody, no matter what age or experience level.

You'll find beginners, who just want to exercise or those looking to learn the ins and out of Ailey's signature technique, which for a moment can make the novice feel like an Ailey dancer.

There are others like Jacqueline Green, who hope to someday hit the stage as a member of the company. For this elite group, Ailey and Fordham University have teamed up to offer a bachelor of fine arts degree.

"Being in this buidling with the beautiful studios and the facility it's a blessing it's a privaledge." Green said.

Ailey's influence spreads far outside New York. There are summer camps in nine cities around the country. In Jamison's opinion, it's just the tip of the iceberg, one that will keep forming for the next 50 years.

"I'd like to see Ailey camps ultimately all over the world," she said. "Particulary in places like Africa."

It's clear, whether you are studying to be a professional or just want move your body, the Ailey experience is one that is open to all.

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 AlvinAiley.org.