Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison was appointed Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989 at the request of her mentor, Alvin Ailey. A native of Philadelphia, Jamison studied with Marion Cuyjet and was discovered by Agnes de Mille. She joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and danced with the company for 15 years to great acclaim.

Jamison appeared as guest artist with ballet companies around the world and starred in the hit Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies. In 1988 she formed her own company, The Jamison Project. A PBS special depicting her creative process, Judith Jamison: The Dancemaker, aired nationally the same year. Jamison is a highly regarded choreographer and author whose autobiography, Dancing Spirit, was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and published by Doubleday in 1993.

Jamison is also the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including a Primetime Emmy Award, an honorary doctorate from Howard University, the Kennedy Center Honor, and the prestigious National Medal of Arts. In 2007 Jamison was awarded a Bessie Award for her lifetime commitment to the preservation and development of dance and the arts. Most recently, she was honored at The BET Honors, an event that recognizes the lives and achievements of leading African American luminaries.

Following the tradition of Alvin Ailey, 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.

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Jessye Norman