Friday, January 9, 2009

Alvin Ailey @ 50

This year marks the 50th anniversary national celebration commemorating the first appearance of the company that came to be known as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It was on March 30, 1958, that a group of black performers calling themselves Alvin Ailey and Dancers took the stage together for the first time, in a performance at the 92nd Street Y. The response to Ailey’s “Blues Suite,” (above image) an instant classic, was frenetic. I got to see this performance this past Sunday on my birthday.

There will also be an anniversary Ailey Barbie doll, designed by Judith Jamison, who will step down as the artistic director of the Ailey company in 2011. “There wasn’t a doll that looked like me back then,” she said of her years as a young ballet student in Philadelphia.

“I chose her skin tone, my color, and her features,” Ms. Jamison said of the doll, which will be available in November and dressed in a “Revelations” costume. “I wanted her to look as black people look, a mixture of many, many things. She is a beautiful African queen.”

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