DEVOTION

01.06.14
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The New Yorker

Star turns at the Alvin Ailey Company.

By Joan Acocella

Ronald K. Brown, the most acclaimed choreographer now working with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in 1966. He knew from childhood that he would grow up to be a dancer. When he was six, he took lessons sponsored by the Police Athletic League. For a second-grade black-history assignment, in which students dressed up as inspirational African-Americans, he wore a white T-shirt and black tights, the costume that Arthur Mitchell had worn in his most famous role, in Balanchine’s “Agon.” Brown also spent a summer studying with Mary Anthony, a celebrated teacher of modern dance. At the age of nineteen, he founded his own dance company, Evidence. Soon, like other young African-American choreographers, he was travelling regularly to Africa to work with its dance companies and to soak up its arts. Hence the basic components of his style: African traditional and popular dance and music, plus American modern dance and club culture. In 2000, he told Melanye White Dixon, of Attitude magazine, that he and his friends liked to go out to clubs at 4 a.m. and dance for five or six hours.

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