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Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison, choreographer and dancer, has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.

Synopsis

Born on May 10, 1943, in Philadelphia, Judith Jamison trained early in dance and music and attended the Philadelphia Dance Academy before performing with the American Ballet Theatre in 1964. Jamison was with Alvin Ailey company until 1980 and during that time gave several notable performances. After Ailey’s death, Jamison became artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Early Life

Dancer, choreographer and artistic director Judith Ann Jamison was born on May 10, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She trained early in dance and music and attended the Philadelphia Dance Academy before performing with American Ballet Theatre in 1964. A year later, she moved to New York City to join the Alvin Ailey company and quickly became a principal dancer.

Performance Career

Jamison stayed with Alvin Ailey until 1980 and during that time gave several notable performances, including 1967’s The Prodigal Prince, 1969’s Masekela Language and 1971’s Cry, which was a 15-minute solo piece. Audiences also remember 1976’s Pas de Duke, a duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov set to the music of Duke Ellington.

After leaving the company to appear in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, Jamison began choreographing her own works and started the Jamison Project in 1988. A year later, shortly after Ailey’s death, Jamison became artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Awards and Achievements

Jamison has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999 and the National Medal of Arts in 2001. Her autobiography, Dancing Spirit, was published in 1993.

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