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Judith Jamison to Receive Handel Medallion from Mayor Bloomberg as Prelude to Final Season as Ailey's Artistic Director

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


New York’s Highest Official Honor is Prelude to Final Season as Artistic Director
Performances Celebrating Five Decades of Revelations with Jamison Conducting Live Music and Full Choir
New Productions of Special Significance include Alvin Ailey’s Cry and Judith Jamison’s Forgotten Time
January 2nd Season Closer is One-Night-Only Farewell Program with Surprise Guest Artists


(New York) – November 1, 2010 – Mayor Michael Bloomberg will present Judith Jamison with The NYC Handel Medallion, the highest official honor given by the City of New York, on Monday, November 8th.  Established in 1959 by Mayor Robert F. Wagner, recipients are selected for their outstanding contributions to the city’s intellectual and cultural life.  Past recipients have included: George Balanchine, Aaron Copland, Alice Tully, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, John Lennon, Leontyne Price, and Alvin Ailey.  Ms. Jamison will receive The NYC Handel Medallion for distinguished achievement in the arts at Alice Tully Hall during the Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture program featuring tribute performances and remarks.

Judith Jamison’s final season as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will begin at New York City Center on December 1st with exciting performances celebrating 50 years of Revelations, Alvin Ailey’s American masterpiece acclaimed as a must-see for all.  Jamison will conduct live musicians and a full choir, featuring the incomparable soloist Ella Mitchell, at not-to-be-missed performances on Friday, December 3rd and Saturday, December 4th at 8pm.  As a joyful nod to each year of Revelations’ life, audiences will witness the ballet with a cast of 50 dancers on Friday, December 3rd for the first-time ever!  

Joined by artistic director designate Robert Battle, Jamison will lead Ailey’s extraordinary artists as they share a series of premieres, repertory favorites, and special programs through January 2nd.  For her final season, Jamison is planning new productions of works from the Ailey repertory that have special meaning, including: Cry, Ailey’s birthday gift for his mother, created on his muse Jamison, which she has taught to subsequent generations of Ailey women; Mary Lou’s Mass, a celebration of life, jazz and gospel that was recently revived for the centennial of composer Mary Lou Williams’ birth; and  Forgotten Time, Jamison’s quietly uplifting choreography which was her first work set on the Company after becoming artistic director.

In an exciting finish to the season, a Jamison Farewell Program on January 2nd will pay tribute to Ailey’s leading woman with surprise guest artists and a one-night-only program highlighting a variety of much loved works and David Parson's gravity-defying, strobe-lit showstopper Caught in its entirety (see program details below).

On November 17th, Jamison will also receive the 2010 National Award for Citizen Diplomacy, for extraordinary work increasing American citizen engagement in international affairs and fostering cross-cultural understanding, along with Robert Redford and five others.  As part of the U.S. Summit and Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be recognized as a “best practices” exemplar in international cultural engagement.

For over two decades, Judith Jamison has been artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents since 1958, using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition in a universal celebration of the human spirit.  One of the most renowned figures in modern dance, she was Mr. Ailey’s muse for whom he created the tour-de-force solo Cry and Pas de Duke, a spirited duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov set to the music of Duke Ellington, among other enduring roles.  Jamison broke through racial barriers in the 1970s becoming internationally recognized in the dance world, and was the first female African-American artist to appear on the cover of Dance Magazine.

She has led the Company, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World”, in performances during two Olympics, in groundbreaking visits to South Africa, Russia and Paris, and on a 50-city global tour celebrating Ailey’s 50th anniversary.  Ms. Jamison is an Emmy-winning choreographer and her autobiography was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The 2004 establishment of a permanent home for Ailey in New York City – the nation’s largest building dedicated to dance – was the realization of her dream to ensure the future of Ailey’s dance performances, training, and educational and community programs for all.  

Named to TIME’s 2009 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, Ms. Jamison is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, the BET Honors, and the National Medal of Arts.  In 2009, The New York Times declared that she is “surely the most stellar and admired artistic director of any repertory dance company in America.”  Most recently, Ms. Jamison was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison, and received the 2010 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s prestigious Phoenix Award.  

Don't miss the opportunity to share in an historic season of inspiration and continuing revelations.  Tickets, starting at $25, are on sale at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix® at (212) 581-1212 or online at or   New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. For group sales, call 212-405-9082 or e-mail  

Visit for photos and press materials.

See attached 2010-11 New York City Center schedule for performance details and times (subject to change).


The Prudential Foundation is the sponsor of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s New York Season.

Target is the sponsor of Target 1960 Night.

Southwest Airlines is the Official Airline of Ailey.

The 2010-2011 season is sponsored, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Simin & Herb Allison, American Express, BNY Mellon, Linda & Sandy Lindenbaum, and Prudential Financial, Inc., are Co-Sponsors of Ailey’s Opening Night Gala.
Forgotten Time (1989)
Choreographer: Judith Jamison                                                                                                                             Music: Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares
In Judith Jamison’s quietly uplifting work, the haunting, otherworldly sounds of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares channels 12 dancers on a journey through ancient rituals of love and tribal rites of passage.  Moments of complex partnering, dramatic imagery and breathtaking stillness are part of a sophisticated choreographic structure that evokes deep emotions and echoes with universal significance.

Mary Lou’s Mass (1971)
Choreographer: Alvin Ailey  (restaged by Masazumi Chaya)                                                                                 Music: Mary Lou Williams
Alvin Ailey’s joyous collaboration with jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, two artists who shared roots and memories in the southern church, is a deeply spirited work showcasing Mr. Ailey’s inspired choreography and Ms. Williams’ soulful and uplifting mass – “Music for Peace”.  This exuberant full-company work, called a celebration of life, jazz and gospel, is being performed in its entirety in 2010 for the first time in over 35 years on the centennial of the birth of Ms. Williams.

Cry (1971)
Choreographer: Alvin Ailey                                                                                                                                   Music: Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, Voices of East Harlem
Alvin Ailey’s Cry, choreographed as a birthday present for his mother, Mrs. Lula Cooper, and created the dance on his stunning muse, Judith Jamison, was an instant sensation.   Dedicated to “all black women everywhere – especially our mothers,” the sixteen minute tour-de-force solo in three sections is set to Alice Coltrane’s “Something about John Coltrane,” Laura Nyro’s “Been on a Train” and “Right On, Be Free” by the Voices of East Harlem.  Ms. Jamison, who has since taught the treasured role to subsequent generations of Ailey women, wrote of the work in her autobiography Dancing Spirit: "In my interpretation, she represented those women before her who came from the hardships of slavery, through the pain of losing loved ones, through overcoming extraordinary depressions and tribulations. Coming out of a world of pain and trouble, she has found her way-and triumphed."

Revelations (1960)
Choreography: Alvin Ailey                                                                                                                                       Music: Traditional
Starting with the opening night gala, this season kicks off a year-long celebration of 5 decades of Alvin Ailey’s timeless masterpiece, Revelations, an American classic called a must-see for all people.   Alvin Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American—“sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.”  This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey’s genius.  Using African-American religious music – spirituals - this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.

Season Finale – Celebrating Judith Jamison (Jan. 2 @ 7:30pm)
The season finale program includes a special one-night-only program with performance excerpts and surprise guest artists joining in a loving tribute to Judith Jamison, whose vision has led the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to new heights, in her final season as artistic director.
Act One
Festa Barocca (Opening Section) by Mauro Bigonzetti
Suite Otis (‘Lover’s duet’) by George Faison
Carmina Burana  (‘In Trutina’ quartet) by John Butler
The Groove To Nobody’s Business (‘What’d I Say’) by Camille A. Brown
Firebird (1st solo) by Maurice Bejart
Pas De Duke (Female solo) by Alvin Ailey
Cry (performed in its entirety by 3 different women) by Alvin Ailey

Act Two
Bad Blood  (Opening and duet) by Ulysses Dove
Reminiscin’ (‘A Case Of You’ duet) by Judith Jamison
Love Stories (excerpt) by Jamison, Harris, Battle
Grace (Quartet section) by Ronald K. Brown  
Caught (in its entirety) by David Parsons

Act Three
Revelations film
Revelations (in its entirety) by Alvin Ailey


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” grew from a now-fabled 1958 New York performance that changed American dance.  Now led by Judith Jamison in her final season, and joined by artistic director designate Robert Battle, the Company has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents, including two historic residencies in South Africa, celebrating the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition. The Ailey organization also includes; Ailey II (1974), a second company of young dancers and choreographers; The Ailey School (1969), extensive dance training programs; Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, bringing dance into classrooms and communities; and The Ailey Extension, dance and fitness classes for the general public at Ailey’s home – The Joan Weill Center for Dance in New York City—the nation’s largest building for dance.

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