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Alvin Ailey, Choreographer by BenHeine Alvin Ailey, Choreographer by BenHeine
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An older illustration

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Alvin Ailey was an American modern dancer and choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on 92nd Street in New York City. He died of AIDS, at the age of 58.

Alvin Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas on January 5, 1931 and moved to Los Angeles, California at the age of twelve. There, on a junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, he fell in love with concert dance. Inspired by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and classes with Lester Horton, Mr Ailey began his formal dance training. It was with Mr. Horton, the founder of the first racially integrated dance company in this country, that Mr. Ailey embarked on his professional dance career. After Horton's death in 1953, Mr. Ailey became the director of the Lester Horton Dance Theater and began to choreograph his own works. In 1954, he and his friend Carmen de Lavallade were invited to New York to dance in the Broadway show, House of Flowers by Truman Capote. In New York, Mr. Ailey studied with many outstanding dance artists, including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and took acting classes with Stella Adler. The versatile Ailey won a number of acting roles, continued to choreograph and performed as a dancer.

In 1958, Mr. Ailey founded his own company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Mr. Ailey had a vision of creating a company dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage and the uniqueness of black cultural expression. In 1960, he choreographed Revelations, the classic masterpiece of American modern dance based on the religious heritage of his youth.

Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Ailey created some 79 ballets, many of which have appeared in the repertoire of major dance companies, including American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Paris Opera Ballet and La Scala Ballet.

Mr. Ailey died on December 1, 1989. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times wrote of Mr. Ailey, "You didn't need to have known Ailey personally to have been touched by his humanity, enthusiasm and exuberance and his courageous stand for multiracial brotherhood."

(Source : [link])

Also check out Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's website : [link]
Add a Comment:
ClayBirdMod Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014
Hi there Ben Heine! I'm currently working with a poetry publication called the Clay Bird Review, and we loved this piece of yours! My colleagues and I were wondering whether we might have your permission to match up your piece with a poem and post it on our Facebook page! Your Deviantart name will also be listed up there and we will send you a link to the posting so you can see it for yourself! Please just send us a message back with your answer.

foreverxXxintime Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Student General Artist
I am doing a project on Alvin Ailey, and I was wondering if I could possibly use this piece in my powerpoint presentation with credit to you. I love this piece very much, i think it shows a lot of depth. This would help me alot in explaining the African influences. Thank You.
McGhaney Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I am a Dancer Myself and this Drawing Influences me to keep Dancing for a while Dance just didn't make me happy anymore but now after seeing this Portrait of one of the Greatest Dancers of All Time Alvin Ailey i've been Inspired to start Dancing again, Alvin Ailey is such a good Dancer he was Voted on BET's Top 25 Dancers of All Time [November 2007] and he was (Ranked: 12) on the list... I LOVE this DRAWING.
ArwenGernak Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2009
For the action I do, this manip have a great signification !
djRimzi Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2008
Flawless... absolutely beautiful.
meboeck Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
First of all, I love Alvin Ailey! Second, you did such a great job of capturing the dynamic pose in your drawing. Excellent job!
emey Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
YEP GREAT ONE, AS USUAL.....:clap: ;)
Marius-Creb Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing. Dance is a beautiful form of art.
sametimenxtyr Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2008
Simounet Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Très beau portrait, joli travail ! :clap:
cc-salehi Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2008
u are a great cartoonist and u are a big teacher for me :peace:
nalster73 Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2008   Writer
learnt something today :) you've captured it beautifully
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Submitted on
July 15, 2008
Image Size
587 KB


34 (who?)

Camera Data

Shutter Speed
10/2500 second
Focal Length
48 mm
Date Taken
Jul 13, 2008, 8:02:50 PM