Last Thursday night my family and I went to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre for my mum’s birthday. Although the evening was meant to celebrate my mum, the performance was so inspirational and appealed to me not just as a dancer, but in light of the work I do with dance4empowerment as well.
Alvin Ailey was an African American choreographer and an activist who founded the dance company in New York that bears his name. The goal of his dance company was to celebrate African-American culture through dance and movement. Drawing upon his childhood memories of oppression and segregation, Ailey popularized modern dance in the 20th century and, further, revolutionized African-American participation in dance performances. Having recently visited the South on a Civil Rights journey, I was touched by Alvin Ailey’s story and impressed with his passion for dance. The legacy of Ailey’s commitment to dance and to his heritage was apparent in Thursday night’s performance.
Ailey’s strong commitment to his “unique” community spoke to me the most as my non-profit, dance4empowerment, works towards the inclusion of people with disabilities. My goal is to bring dance to as many people with disabilities in our communities as a means of self-expression and growth. And, like Ailey, I hope that my program will continue to expand, improve, and influence over time.