Dance for the people

  • 2012-05-16
  • By TBT Staff

VISIONARY: Alvin Ailey took his inspiration from the blues, spirituals and gospel.


“I believe that dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.”

-Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958, at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.

The Ailey Company has gone on to perform for an estimated 23 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents, as well as millions more through television broadcasts. In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the Company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world,” one that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

When Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, “Revelations.” Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work.
Today, the Company continues Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 200 works by over 80 choreographers are part of the Ailey Company’s repertory.

On May 30, Nokia Concert Hall in Tallinn will host Ailey II of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In addition to the Estonian capital, the European tour of the dancers who are among the absolute best in the world will also hold performances in Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw and many cities in Germany.

The Ailey II enables the audience to get acquainted with the young and promising new talents of Ailey Dance Theater who present the works and artistic vision of the best American choreographers. Since 1974, the artistic director of the dance theater has been Sylvia Waters, hand-picked by Alvin Ailey, under whom Ailey II has flourished into one of the most popular dance companies in the country, combining a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs. For Sylvia Waters, the imminent European tour is the last before her retirement.

According to Mart Agu, the creative director of the XI Youth Song and Dance Celebration of 2011 and the founder and artistic director of the Tallinn Dance Academy, this is one of the most renowned dance companies in the world. “Ailey II consists of tomorrow’s superstars who are currently still making their way to the top,” says Mart Agu. In his words, Alvin Ailey can be considered one of the founders of the contemporary Northern American dance style and professional dance education.

Thanks to cooperation with the Embassy of the United States in Estonia whose initiative made this show a reality, the organizers have been able to make the ticket price as favorable as possible so that every young fan of dance would be able to experience the performance of the magnificent New York dance company.

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