Who is Alvin Ailey and what is his contribution to choreography?
Born in poverty in rural Texas, Alvin Ailey became a gifted choreographer who drew inspiration from African American culture. Ailey, a black choreographer who was born in rural Texas in 1931, where racial segregation was still happening. His childhood memories of the pain and suffering caused by segregation became subject matters/stimuli for his later dance works.
Ailey moved to Los Angeles aged 11 and found himself in a much more racially mixed environment. He began to explore and become inspired by different dance work such as the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Katherine Dunham’s black dance revues. His first serious dance training was with Lester Horton, who had a multicultural melting-pot vision of modern dance.
Though his most direct stylistic influence was Lester Horton, Ailey amalgamated elements from a wide range of different dance styles into his choreography. He often said that he liked to work with a balletic lower body – articulate footwork, long extensions – and a more mobile, “modern dance” upper body. Alongside that, he added elements of jazz dance, popular, ritual and social dances, all fused into a limber and athletic presentational style.