Quote: ” Women are blessed with a jewel of strength that glows all the time.”
Judith Jamison, choreographer and dancer, has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. Dancer, choreographer and artistic director Judith Ann Jamison was born on May 10, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She trained early in dance and music and attended the Philadelphia Dance Academy before performing with American Ballet Theatre in 1964. A year later, she moved to New York City to join the Alvin Ailey company and quickly became a principal dancer.
Jamison stayed with Alvin Ailey until 1980 and during that time gave several notable performances, including 1967’s The Prodigal Prince, 1969’s Masekela Language and 1971’s Cry, which was a 15-minute solo piece. Audiences also remember 1976’s Pas de Duke, a duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov set to the music of Duke Ellington.
In addition to performing, Jamison wanted the opportunity to explore working with her own group of dancers. She began teaching master classes at Jacob’s Pillow in 1981 and soon began choreographing her own works. She later formed The Jamison Project with a group of dancers with a strong desire to work and learn. The Project premiered on November 15, 1988 at the Joyce Theater in New York City, performing works such as Divining, Time Out, and Tease. Jamison later invited guest choreographers, including Garth Fagan, to set work for the company. In 1988, Jamison returned to Alvin Ailey Dance Theater as an artistic associate. Upon Ailey’s death, on December 1, 1989, she assumed the role of artistic director and dedicated the next 21 years of her life to the company’s success. Alvin Ailey Dance Theater continued to thrive as Jamison continued to rehearse and restage classics from the company’s repertory, as well as commission distinguished choreographers to create new works for the dancers. Jamison also continued to choreograph, and created dances such as Forgotten Time, Hymn, Love Stories, and Among Us for the company.