The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) is celebrating its 65th season by honoring 80-year-old dancer and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison.
According to the AAADT event page, Jamison is being honored at the opening night gala, Wednesday, Nov. 29, for her, “beauty and strength as a dancer, creativity as a choreographer, and vision and commitment as a leader continue to inspire us today.”
In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Jamison said, “Numbers and ages really do matter.”
“I love when people say, ‘The number doesn’t matter.’ Oh, yes it does when you’ve been dancing most of your life,” she said.
“It matters a whole lot because your body is catching up to what craziness you were doing as a dancer,” she added.
Then Jamison noted, “At 80, everything doesn’t work the same way. And that’s the challenge, finding out, what can I do? What can’t I do? But I’m loving it.”
Jamison began dancing when she was 6 years old and was the company’s active artistic director from 1989-2011.
Her success is noted on the AAADT website and began with the company in 1965. Alvin Ailey cast Jamison in “some of his most endearing roles” for 15 years as she rose to stardom.
“Judith Jamison in John Butler’s Facets” photographed by Jack Mitchell (1976) | Judith Jamison is a renowned dancer and prolific choreographer who succeeded Alvin Ailey as artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1989 to 2010 pic.twitter.com/oPF2mxBjPh— archivealive (@archivealive) June 3, 2021
She went on to dance with world-renowned ballet companies and starred on Broadway. She has won numerous awards, including a PrimeTime Emmy, and succeeded Ailey as artistic director when he requested that she take over for him in 1989.
Jamison told the Hollywood Reporter she is most proud of, “Seeing the company dancers each generation. Every generation that comes speaks to the genius of a man named Alvin Ailey.”
“We’re getting farther and farther away from people even knowing him, not seeing him, meeting him, anything, and every generation has to continue the legacy and love it, and if they don’t, they need to go someplace else,” she explained.
Jamison recalled Ailey’s commitment to dancing and his appreciation for his art.
She said, “Mr. Ailey used to remind us if we got too all high and mighty in our heads, ‘You know you’re a dancer?’ He’d say it in such a way that wasn’t derogatory, but it was loaded with, look, this is a privilege for you to be able to get on stage and make a living doing these things.
“And you should enjoy that and understand how privileged you are to be gifted with these God gifts that are given to you. So enjoy it. And have some levity,” she concluded.