Ailey, Alvin (1931–1989) By Fisher-Harrell, Linda-Denise
Alvin Ailey counts among the most significant American choreographers of the second half of the twentieth century, and his company the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) as one of the most widely known companies both nationally and internationally. Initially established in 1958 as a small pick-up company of black dancers, AAADT quickly developed into a multiracial company that not only served as a platform for Ailey’s works but also became a repository for works by many different choreographers in a wide variety of styles. Communicating to a broad audience base, Ailey made the black dancing body integral to modern dance. In the tradition of the Lester Horton Dance Theater, Ailey stressed ethnic diversity and a broad artistic range. AAADT remains a primarily black yet multiracial company that continues the heritage of American modern dance while preserving the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience.