In honor of Black history month I will be highlighting the lives of GLBT African-Americans and their contributions to society during the civil rights movement. I will begin with famed choreographer Alvin Ailey .
Alvin Ailey, Jr. (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an African American modern dancer and choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Ailey was born to his 17-year-old mother, Lula Cooper, in Rogers, Texas. Alvin developed an early interest in dance. In 1943 he and his mother moved to Los Angeles.
Initially, he took dance classes from choreographer Katherine Dunham, and later studied under Los Angeles, California dance teacher Lester Horton. While studying with Horton, Ailey pursued college courses in the Romance languages. At various times Ailey was enrolled at UCLA, Los Angeles City College, and the University of California at Berkeley. He studied authors like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Carson McCullers.
Ailey was fascinated by Horton's choreography, which consisted of theater pieces based on pictures by Paul Klee, poems by Garcia Lorca, music by Duke Ellington and Igor Stravinsky, and even Mexican themes. When Lester Horton died in 1953, 22-year-old Ailey was chosen to fill the shoes of his mentor. He became the director and resident choreographer for the Lester Horton Dance Theater. Within one year he choreographed three original dances for Horton's company: Creation of the World, According to St. Francis, and Mourning Morning.
Ailey began a relationship with his longtime partner, David McReynolds, in the 1950s. Ailey died in 1989 from AIDS related complications.(Source:wikipedia.org)
Highlights of Ailey's signature piece Revelations can be viewed below.