Scholars Learn About Social Activism Through Dance

December 18: Fulbright Scholars in New York enjoyed a tour and performance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where they learned about the intersections between African-American history, modern dance and social activism. Founded in 1958 by African-American choreographer, Alvin Ailey, the company was one of the first racially integrated modern dance repertory companies in the United States. Scholars toured the Alvin Ailey School where an impressive 90-100 dance classes are offered every single day.

Scholars enjoy a tour of the Alvin Ailey School

Scholars enjoy a tour of the Alvin Ailey School

At the end of the tour scholars attended a private talk with professional dancer, Slim Mello, who originally came to New York from Brazil through Ailey’s scholarship program. He shared his personal story of how the Alvin Ailey School impacted his life, which was met by applause from Scholars.

Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan with dancer Slim Mello.

Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan with dancer Slim Mello.

After the tour Scholars saw performances of three dance pieces: Memoria, Odetta, and Revelations. The premiere piece, Odetta, celebrates the life of singer and civil rights activist, Odetta Holmes. Revelations, Ailey’s most famous piece has been performed more times than the Nutcracker.

A scene from Odetta.

A scene from Odetta.

Scholars remarked on how much they enjoyed the performance, which was enriched by understanding the Company’s history and significance. Scholars understood, through this experience, why Congress has called Alvin Ailey “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world.”

(left to right) Asli Ozyar from Turkey and Zainab Riaz and Nadhra Khan from Pakistan.

(left to right) Asli Ozyar from Turkey and Zainab Riaz and Nadhra Khan from Pakistan.

 

 

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