The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) and its namesake founder created a space for Black performers, choreographers and audiences to explore their history and identities through modern dance. For singer and actress Vanessa Williams ("Me, Myself and I") and her daughter, Jillian Hervey of Lion Babe, the AAADT is a multigenerational family affair.
"I was first introduced to Alvin Ailey through my mother," Williams says in the above video, published to Facebook and Instagram today (December 13). "When you saw his dance company on television, you knew that it was a special moment in your life because there were no others."
"There were people that I could aspire to be like, and there were bodies that looked like my body," Hervey adds.
The performers spoke about their favorite Ailey dance compositions and their importance for a new video series. HBO created the clips to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the AAADT. The dance company celebrated the achievement with an extensive programming slate that continues through the end of the year. The 60th anniversary season included premieres of new works by AAADT-affiliated choreographers, including Rennie Harris and Roland K. Brown. The AAADT will perform these pieces, and seminal Ailey works like "Revelations," all this month in New York City. The company will tour North America next year.