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Alvin Ailey

  • American dancer
  • Born January 5, 1931
  • Died December 1, 1989

Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an African-American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the most successful dance companies in the world. He created AAADT and its affiliated Ailey School as havens for nurturing black artists and expressing the universality of the African-American experience through dance. His work fused theatre, modern dance, ballet, and jazz with black vernacular, creating hope-fueled choreography that continues to spread global awareness of black life in America.


Money is a never-ending problem.




Sometimes you feel bad about yourself when there's no reason to.




My lasting impression of Truman Capote is that he was a terribly gentle, terribly sensitive, and terribly sad man.




I'm attracted to long-legged girls with long arms and a little head.




It will take very sophisticated marketing to achieve our aim of bringing more black people into the theater.




I always want more.




One of the worst things about racism is what it does to young people.




One of the processes of your life is to constantly break down that inferiority, to constantly reaffirm that I Am Somebody.




Choreography is mentally draining, but there's a pleasure in getting into the studio with the dancers and the music.




I always want to have more dancers in my company.




We still spend more time chasing funds than we do in the studio in creative work.




Lena Horne is the sweetest and most adorable woman in the world.




Racism tears down your insides so that no matter what you achieve, you're not quite up to snuff.




If you live in the elite world of dance, you find yourself in a world rife with racism. Let's face it.




The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it's with you all the time.




Nothing personal; I just don't have people over.




No matter what you write or choreograph, you feel it's not enough.




Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.




In this business, life is one long fund-raising effort.




My feelings about myself have been terrible.




I am trying to show the world that we are all human beings and that color is not important. What is important is the quality of our work.



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