Judith Jamison was appointed Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in December 1989 at the request of her mentor, Alvin Ailey, who personally chose her to succeed him before his untimely death. A native of Philadelphia, she studied with Marion Cuyjet, was discovered by Agnes de Mille and made her New York debut with American Ballet Theatre in 1964. She became a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and danced with the Company for 15 years to great acclaim. Recognizing her extraordinary talent, Mr. Ailey created some of his most enduring roles for her, most notably the tour-de-force solo, Cry.
Today, Judith Jamison presides over the artistically and fiscally vibrant Ailey organization. Her presence has been a catalyst, propelling the organization in new directions – the development of the Women's Choreography Initiative; performances at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the 2002 Cultural Olympiad in Salt Lake City where she carried the Olympic torch during the relay prior to the opening ceremonies; and two historic engagements in South Africa. Recently, she led the Company on a 50-city global tour celebrating Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 50th anniversary with a year-long series of special performances, collaborations, events and commemorative merchandise including an Ailey Barbie® Doll by Mattel designed by Ms. Jamison. She has continued Mr. Ailey's practice of showcasing the talents of emerging choreographers from within the ranks of the Company. As Artistic Director of The Ailey School, official school of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ms. Jamison has helped to implement a multicultural curriculum including the dances of West Africa and South India. She is an advocate for education in the arts and was a guiding force in establishing the B.F.A. program between The Ailey School and Fordham University, which offers a unique combination of world-class dance training and a superior liberal arts education. Following the tradition of Alvin Ailey, Ms. Jamison is dedicated to asserting the prominence of the arts in our culture, spearheading initiatives to bring dance into the community and programs that introduce children to the arts. She remains committed to promoting the significance of the Ailey legacy--dance as a medium for honoring the past, celebrating the present and fearlessly reaching into the future. The move to Ailey’s permanent home, The Joan Weill Center for Dance, in 2004, a state-of-the-art building located at 55th Street and 9th Avenue, was the realization of her long-awaited dream.
Read more at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater