MIAMI — Often referred to as the staple of American choreography and culture, the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will celebrate its 50th anniversary next week at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
The historic performance will mark the evolution of a dance organization that has brought African-American cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition to the world’s stages.
The legacy of this dance theater began in 1957 when a young African-American choreographer named Alvin Ailey decided to change the perception of American dance forever.
With nothing more than passion and a God-given talent, Ailey created a dance organization that comprised a theatrical and vibrant blend of ballet, modern dance, jazz and African dance techniques.
Ailey personally requested Judith Jamison, artistic director for the company, to step into that prominent role. For the past 20 years, Jamison has continued Ailey’s legacy of powerful and dynamic dance variations while never losing an intense emotional appeal.
Having Ailey as her teacher and mentor motivated Jamison’s unique vision and commitment to the company.
“Ailey was a genius of a choreographer. He was concerned about us as people first and he wanted you to grow as a person. So by the time you got on the stage you had something to tell an audience…something about life,” Jamison told the South Florida Times.
Twenty –six year old Miami native Jamar Roberts joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater six years ago. He grew up in Miami during a time when there were not many established dance programs or organizations. He said that getting where he is today is truly a humbling and joyous occasion.
“Performing back home is going to be quite the experience, and I’m looking forward to it. Because there weren’t a lot of arts-related programs, it forced me to work a lot harder,” Roberts told the South Florida Times.
This will be Roberts’ first major performance in Miami since his acceptance into the company.
The years of touching hearts and changing lives through dance has been the inspiration behind the organization’s success over the past five decades.
South Florida should expect to see magnanimous performances and highly acclaimed classics that will have audience members sitting at the edge of their seats.
The performance will include Alvin Ailey’s “Blues Suite,’’ which was the company’s first inaugural performance in 1958. It will also include the legendary “Revelations,’’ which Ailey choreographed in 1960.
“There’s magic that happens onstage because of a genius of a man who discovered a company 50 years ago,” Jamison concluded, “but it goes beyond that. It’s something about dancing deep within and dancing from your experience …and always reinventing yourself.”
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed in 71 countries across six continents. It has modestly been dubbed the “Cultural Ambassador to the World.”
The 26 -city, 50th anniversary tour – which includes New York, Chicago and Ohio – makes its 17th stop in Miami with promises of showcasing beauty, spirit, hope and passion in every step.
IF YOU GO:
What: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 50th Anniversary Celebration.
When: Thursday, April 16 to April 19. 8 p.m. evening performances, 2 p.m. matinee performances.
Where: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County; Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.
Cost: From $20 to $120.
Contact: For more information, please call 305-949-6722 or log onto www.arshtcenter.org.