After more than 20 years at the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance theater, director and choreographer Judith Jamison is ready to retire. In this video, NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown talks to Jamison about her leadership of the company she helped build.
The Alvin Ailey dance company was created 51 years ago as a celebration of African-American culture. Black men and women in the dance industry found limited opportunities elsewhere.
Jamison started as a dancer for the company and when founder Ailey died in 1989, she succeeded him. The company has since become internationally successful, performing in 71 countries for as many as 23 million people.
In this video, Jamison discusses the importance of dance and talks about how a mantra of "pray, prepare, and proceed" has guided her work with Alvin Ailey.
"What we tried to do is express our humanity, as we're showing you these, not just steps, but we're showing you parts of life through our movement, through what we're doing." Judith Jamison, artistic director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
"Mr. Ailey was so specific about his African-American heritage that what he had to say through movement became universal, because it spoke to the human condition, so that, if "Revelations" was done in Russia, or in Toledo, or in Tokyo, everyone understood what that message was about." - Judith Jamison
"If you're just here to see how many pirouettes you can do, or how high you can raise your leg, or how high you can jump, that's not what gives memories. I mean, people don't remember me for how high my legs went, even though they went up very high, and how many pirouettes I did. They don't remember me for that. They remember me and any other dancer because something touched them inside. It's an indelible memory on the heart and in the mind." - Judith Jamison
1. How does American art reflect the American experience and history?
2. How has the experience of black Americans affected African-American art?
1. How have changing times affected Alvin Ailey, a dance company that celebrates African-American culture?
2. Jamison says that dance is "universal." What do you think she means by this? In what ways is dance universal?
3. Jamison also says that its important to reach out to new audiences via popular avenues like "Dancing with the Stars." Do you think its important for artists to do popular outreach like that?
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