Alvin Ailey's Life

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Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas

Ailey was born to his 17-year-old mother, Lula Elizabeth Ailey

Ailey's father left

Ailey’s father abandoned the family when he was six months old

Ailey's mother was raped by a group of white men

When Ailey was 5, his 22-year-old mother was raped by a group of white men, leaving him afraid of whites

Ailey's mother migrated to Los Angeles, California

In the fall of 1942, Ailey’s mother, in common with many African Americans, migrated to Los Angeles, California, where she had heard there was lucrative work supporting the war effort.

Ailey moved to Los Angeles, California to be with his mother

Ailey joined his mother later by train, having stayed behind in Texas to finish out the school year

He was invited to New York to dance in House of Flowers by Truman Capote

In 1945, Ailey and his friend – Carmen De Lavallade – were invited to New York to dance in the Broadway show, House of Flowers by Truman Capote

Ailey became serious about dance

Ailey did not become serious about dance until in 1949 when his school friend Carmen De Lavellade introduced him to the Hollywood studio of Lester Horton

Ailey was introduced to the Hollywood studio of Lester Horton

Ailey was introduced to the Hollywood studio of Lester Horton by his school friend Carmen De Lavallade.

Ailey moved to San Francisco to continue his studies

Ailey began choreographing

Despite his youth and lack of experience (Ailey was only twenty-two and had choreographed only one dance in a workshop) he began choreographing, directing scene and costume designs and running rehearsals

Ailey became the artistic director of Lester Horton's studios

Ailey's first choreographed piece was a tribute to Horton

Lester Horton Died

Ailey made his debut in Horton's Revue Le Bal Caribe

Ailey joined Horton's company

Ailey performed as a Dancer and Actor in The Carefree Tree

Ailey appeared in Sing, Man, Sing

Ailey performed as a dancer and an actor in Show Boat

Ailey appeared in the Broadway show Jamaica

Ailey choreographed Blues Suite

Blues Suite, Alivin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Kaufmann Concert Hall, 1958

Ailey formed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

Ailey choreographed Cinco Latinos

Cinco Latinos, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Kaufmann Concert Hall, New York City, 1958

Ailey choreographed Knoxville: Summer of 1915

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Clark Center, 1960

Ailey choreographed Three for Now

Three for Now, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Clark Center, New York City, 1960

Ailey created his signature work, Revelations

For his signature work, Revelations, Ailey drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel

Ailey choreographed Roots of the Blues with Carmen De Lavallade

(With Carmen De Lavallade) Roots of the Blues, Lewisogn Stadium, New York City, 1961

US State Department sponsored the Alvin Ailey Dance Companys first overseas tour

Ailey choreographed Hermit Songs

Hermit Songs, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 1963

Ailey choreographed Ariadne

Ariadne, Harkness Ballet, Opera Comique, Paris, 1965

Ailey choreographed Macumba

Macumba, Harkness Ballet, Gran Teatro del Liceo, Barcelona, Spain 1966, then produced as Yemanja, Chicago Opera House 1967

Ailey choreographed Quintet

Quintet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, Scotland, 1968, then Billy Rose Theatre, New York City 1969

Ailey choreographed Masekela Language

Masekela Language, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, American Dance Festival, New London, Connecticut, 1969, then Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City, 1969

Ailey choreographed Streams

Streams, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1970

Ailey choreographed Gymnopedies

Gymnopedies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1970

Ailey was honored by a commission to create The River for ABT

Ailey choreographed Mary Lou's Mass

Mary Lou’s Mass, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1971. This dance was dedicated to Ailey’s mother and all black women alike

Ailey choreographed Mingus Dances

Robert Joffrey Company, New York City Center, 1971

Ailey choreographed Flowers

Flowers, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, ANTA Theatre, 1971

Ailey choreographed Archipelago

Ailey choreographed Myth

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1971

Ailey choreographed Cry

Cry, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1971

Ailey choreographed Choral Dances

Choral Dances, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1971

Ailey choreographed Sea Change

Sea Change, American Ballet Theatre, Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, D.C. 1972, then New York City Center, 1973

Ailey choreographed The Lark Ascending

The Lark Ascending, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1972

Ailey choreographed Shaken Angels

Shaken Angels, 10th New York Dance Festival, Delacorte Theatre, New York City, 1972

Ailey choreographed Love Songs

Love Songs, Alvin Ailey City Center Dance Theatre, Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, D.C. 1972, then New York City Center, 1973

Ailey choreographed Song for You

Song for You, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1972

Ailey choreographed Hidden Rites

Hidden Rites, Alvin Ailey City Center Dance Theatre, New York City Center, 1973

Ailey choreographed Night Creature

Ailey choreographed The Mooche

Ailey choreographed Pas de "Duke"

Ailey was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP

Ailey choreographed Memoria

Ailey choreographed Phases

Ailey choreographed Landscape

Ailey received the Kennedy Center Honors

Ailey's death

Ailey died on December 1st, 1989 at the age of 58. To spare his mother the social stigma of his death from AIDS, he asked his doctor to announce that he had died of terminal blood dyscrasia

Ailey was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr & Mrs.

Ailey was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Mr & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY