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Dance in America: Beyond the Steps: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater banner
Clifton Brown in ''Love Stories'' (photo by Paul Kolnik-Thirteen/WNET
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Beyond the Steps


DANCE IN AMERICA: BEYOND THE STEPS: ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER premiered on June 21, 2006 on PBS (check local listings).

DANCE IN AMERICA follows the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) during a pivotal period in its history, when the company ventured abroad and established new roots at home. The documentary marks a moment of both growth and reflection: the company travels to Russia after an absence of 15 years; moves into a state-of-the-art custom facility, called by THE NEW YORK TIMES "the largest in the country devoted exclusively to dance"; and creates a new ballet entitled "Love Stories," choreographed by longtime AAADT Artistic Director Judith Jamison in collaboration with hip-hop pioneer Rennie Harris and modern dance maverick Robert Battle. Under Jamison's steadfast leadership, the making of a new dance and a new home serve as symbols of the remarkable foundation that Ailey built and of the vibrancy that defines the company today. Directed by filmmaker Phil Bertelsen, BEYOND THE STEPS tells the story of what it takes to keep dance modern, art relevant, and a legacy alive.

Get details about the rigors and pleasures of being a dancer from Dwana Adiaha Smallwood, one of the program's featured performers, and watch an excerpt of "Love Stories" in Dialogue. From its humble beginnings in 1958 to its current status as one of the best-known dance ensembles in the world, read about some pivotal events in the company's history in the essay by contributor Jennifer Dunning, and meet its venerable artistic director in the profile by Elizabeth Zimmer.

Special funding for the program was provided by The Ford Foundation, Fred Eychaner, The Starr Foundation, Altria Group, Inc., Ira M. Resnick Foundation, and The Allison Foundation. Also by Adrian & Jessie Archbold Charitable Trust, Nadja Fidelia, Patricia Laskawy, Gloria & Stanley Plesent, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, John H. Schaefer & Pamela D. Zilly, Spencer Stuart, Joan & Sandy Weill, Guido Goldman, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and Judith & Ronald Davenport.

Top banner photos: Clifton Brown, Matthew Rushing, and Dwana Adiaha Smallwood; Dwana Adiaha Smallwood; and Matthew Rushing (all photos by Paul Kolnik -- Thirteen/WNET).

Artistic Director Judith Jamison with senior members of the company

Artistic Director Judith Jamison with senior members of the company (photo by Paul Kolnik -- Thirteen/WNET).

Clifton Brown (photo by Paul Kolnik -- Thirteen/WNET)

Dancer Clifton Brown joined AAADT in 1999 (photo by Paul Kolnik -- Thirteen/WNET).

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A DVD of the film is available from

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