There is more than one way to become a millionaire and Alvin Ailey discovered it all on his own. They say that when he came into this world back on that cold January day in 1931 that he came out ready to dance. Now although that may very well be an old folks tale one thing is for sure, dancing was to become his life. The pride of Rogers, Texas was witness to the world of dance at an early age when he was privy to catch the famous dance company featuring Katherine Dunham. Of course when the youngster first began attending classes offered by Lester Horton he couldn’t have had a clue that he was taking the first dance steps towards a million dollar future.
As he grew he began to put together a dancing style that was all his own. He was able to do this by reaching deep into his past and pulling out the visions of his youth when Sunday night spirituals filled the Texas air. That music just made you want to move. He also found a way to work his love for the blues, the music from the soul that had inspired many before him. The blues had a way of taking a body to places it had never been. All of this mixed with his gospel upbringing allowed him to produce a dancing style that set him apart from many dancers of his era. This combination of inspired musical styles came together to form ‘revelations’ and set the motion for his dance work that has been hailed and highly praised for decades.
During his lifetime he managed to put together 79 of his own dance ballets. He always made it clear that he did not create his own dance company to display his dance only. One of the biggest days in his life came in 1958 in the month of March. He and his ensemble cast of African-American dance subjects put on a show that would forever shed a different light on the artistry known as American dance. His dance company took off and he never had to look back, except for inspiration.
For decades his dance company grew and with it so did his reputation as a goodwill ambassador. His fortune grew right with it. The dance company that bore his name toured all over the world. In 1969 he opened a dance school as well. On the first day of December in 1989 he was taken from the dance world way too soon at the age of 58. However, his legend lived on. His long time associate Judith Jamison took over the helm. His dance company has went on to entertain close to 22 million dance lovers in states all over the nation as well as 71 countries around the globe. His dance company continues to present the best in modern dance while savoring the excellence of the past.