(Photo Credits: Carl Van Vechten, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
From his roots as a slave, the American Negro – sometimes sorrowing, sometimes jubilant but always hopeful – has touched, illuminated, and influenced the most remote preserves of world civilisation. I and my dance theater celebrate this trembling beauty.
Black History Month 2022 is underway, guys!
It’s an annual celebration observed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” This is according to former U.S. President Gerald Ford who expanded “Negro History Week” to Black History Month in 1976 during the height of the civil rights movement.
But why celebrate it on the month of February?
Also known as African-American History Month, the month of February was especially designated to honor two men namely social reformer, abolitionist, orator, activist, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass; and Abraham Lincoln, who served as the 16th president of the United States.
The former was the leader of the abolitionist movement (the movement that sought to end slavery). The latter, on the other hand, abolished slavery by signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Their birthdays were both in February. Douglass, an escaped slave, did not know his birthday so he commemorated it every February 14 while Lincoln was born on 12th February 1809.
To know more about Black History Month, click here.
Anyway, for the year 2022, we are taking a look back at the life and works of Alvin Ailey.
Alvin Ailey was an American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist best known as the founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) and its affiliate organization, the Ailey School. He reportedly created them as “havens for nurturing Black artists and expressing the universality of the African-American experience through dance.”
His work reportedly “fused theater, modern dance, ballet, and jazz with Black vernacular, creating hope-fueled choreography that continues to spread global awareness of Black life in America.” Today, Ailey’s “choreographic masterpiece Revelations is recognized as one of the most popular and most performed ballets in the world.”
During its 50-yanniversary, AAADT was dubbed a “vital American cultural ambassador to the World” through a resolution passed by the United States Congress on July 15, 2008. That same year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared December 4th “Alvin Ailey Day” in New York City as well.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Ailey the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
Watch the show below to get to know Alvin Ailey more.
We leave you with another quote from Ailey:
Its roots are in American Negro culture, which is part of the whole country’s heritage, but the dance speaks to everyone… Otherwise, it wouldn’t work.