April 1, 2008 Alvin Ailey Exhibition Opens at Library on May 8

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Exhibitions Information (202) 707-4604
Contact: Visit the exhibition online.

On March 30, 1958, Alvin Ailey’s new company of seven dancers performed for the first time in New York City. Fifty years later, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) has performed for more than 21 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on six continents. The Library of Congress commemorates the troupe’s golden anniversary with the exhibition, “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: 50 Years as Cultural Ambassador to the World.”

The exhibition, which opens on May 8 and remains on view through Sept. 6, is showcased in the foyer of the Performing Arts Reading Room, LM 113, of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. Exhibition hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Alvin Ailey (1931–1989) founded AAADT to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the heritage of American modern dance, as well as safeguarding the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. Since its founding, the company has grown into a large multi-racial dance company and one of the most respected and popular modern dance organizations in the world.

The exhibition, featuring material from the Library’s Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Archive and selected items from the Lester Horton Dance Theater Collection, offers a window into Ailey’s roots at the Los Angeles-based Lester Horton Dance Theater, his repertory of 79 choreographic works, the development of his dance company and the continuation of the Ailey legacy under the leadership of Judith Jamison. The exhibition draws on an extensive collection of photographs and includes images of works by some of the 70 choreographers who have created dances for AAADT, as well as extraordinary examples of Ailey’s most beloved creations, including “Blues Suite,” “Revelations” and “Cry.” The exhibition also features a short film presentation that provides insight into the history and development of AAADT.

The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Archive was obtained by the Library in 2006 and contains photographs, films, videotapes, performance programs, correspondence and other written materials relating to the choreographer’s life and career, the development of the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation and materials that highlight Jamison’s contributions as an Ailey dancer and artistic director of AAADT after Ailey’s death.

Following its closing on Sept. 6, the exhibition will travel to the Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, where it will open on Oct. 4 and be on view for six months.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, which bring to bear the world’s knowledge in almost all of the world’s languages and America’s private sector intellectual and cultural creativity in almost all formats. The Library seeks to spark the public’s imagination and celebrate human achievement through its programs and exhibits. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s Web site www.loc.gov.


PR 08-056
ISSN 0731-3527