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Alvin Ailey
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    (January 5, 1931-December 1, 1989)
    Founded Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
    Influential choreographer in the history of dance
    Danced for Lester Horton, Martha Graham, Charles Weidman and Hanya Holm
    Despite producing over 150 ballets he suffered from insecurity.
    He was manic depressed.
    He dropped out of UCLA.
    He smoked.
    He took drugs.
    He ate fatty foods.
    Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater challenged racial barriers by being one of the first mixed race dance companies in the United States.
    He received the Kennedy Center honors 'for lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts' (August 1988).
    He grew up poor, Alvin and his mother picked cotton to survive.
    His father left when he was very young.
    He challenged stereotypes about the 'look' of a classical dancer.
    He saw a psychotherapist and wrote himself stern notes to give up cigarettes, drugs, and fatty foods.
    'Revelations,' his signature piece, is 'the journey of a people from the degradation of slavery to the joy of self-sufficiency.'
    Alvin Ailey's ballet 'Cry' was a birthday present for his mother but was dedicated 'to all black women everywhere, especially our mothers.'
    He died of AIDS.

Credit: SumoBear

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