January 27, 2006 Library of Congress to Acquire Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Archives

Collection Includes Ailey’s Personal Writings, Sketches and 8,500 Photographs

Press Contact: Trish Taylor Shuman (202) 707-1940; Tyrha M. Lindsey (212) 405-9076
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at (202) 707-6362

The Library of Congress will announce the recent donation of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) archive during a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the Whittall Pavilion, ground floor, Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. Ailey dancers Renee Robinson, Dwana Adiaha Smallwood and Matthew Rushing will perform a vignette of “Wade In The Water.”

“The acquisition of the Alvin Ailey Archive is a major achievement for the Library,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “This ‘jewel’ builds on our efforts to strengthen the Library’s performing arts collections over the past 25 years.” Sharon Gersten Luckman, AAADT executive director commented, “We have worked tirelessly to preserve the legacy of our founder, Alvin Ailey, and the visionary work of our Artistic Director, Judith Jamison. The completion of the building of our new home and the preservation of the Ailey Archive ensure that Ailey’s history and artistic accomplishments will be permanently accessible to future generations.”

This gift to the nation will be digitized under a joint project of the Library and AAADT, with support from the White House Millennium Council’s preservation program “Save America’s Treasures” grant. The collection will be accessible to the public at-large and to the AAADT’s staff, dancers and students through the establishment of an intranet system to serve the digitized archive. The Library of Congress will also provide on-site public access to the digitized materials, the original paper-based archive and a web site that presents highlight from the collection.

Since 1958, AAADT has amassed an extensive and unique collection of archival materials relating to Ailey’s life and career, Judith Jamison’s contributions as a dancer and now artistic director and the work of the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. The archive also contains primary source materials on other influential artists such as Katherine Dunham, Donald McKayle, Lester Horton and Lar Lubovitch.

Highlights of the archives include:

  • Ailey’s personal papers, including sketches of dances, programs, costume designs, rehearsal notes, honorary degrees and correspondence with photographer Carl van Vechten.
  • Musical manuscripts and orchestrations, including holographic scores of works by Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, Leonard Bernstein, Phoebe Snow and Donald McKayle, as well as collaborative works with Katherine Dunham.
  • Ailey’s groundbreaking, “Revelations,” and his work on Bernstein’s “Mass.”
  • The contents of Ailey’s desk, including business correspondence, press kits, contracts and personal correspondence.
  • National and international news clippings containing the original pasteups from 1960-1998 and original telegrams and congratulatory notes from dignitaries and celebrities around the globe.
  • 8,500 black-and-white photographs representing an artistic and visual record of most of Ailey’s ballets, as well as other choreographers whose works were performed with AAADT. Some of the most notable photographers included are Jack Mitchell, Fred Fehl, Kenn Duncan, Normand Maxon, Susan Cook, Anthony Crickmay, Johan Elbers, Lois Greenfield, Jack Vartoogian and Martha Swope.
  • Audiotapes used for performances from 1958-1995 and 24 reels of 16mm film footage.
  • Some 4,000 programs of national and international performances from 1958-2004.

Since 1958, AAADT has performed for more than 21 million people in 71 countries and on six continents. The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. is the umbrella organization that includes AAADT; Ailey II, a junior performing company of emerging young dancers; The Ailey School, founded in 1969 and offers some of the most extensive dance training programs in the world. For more information, visit AAADT at www.alvinailey.org.

The Ailey Archive joins the collections of such dance luminaries as Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Katherine Dunham and Lester Horton. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library with more than 130 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library of Congress serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both onsite in its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning Web site at www.loc.gov.


PR 06-024
ISSN 0731-3527