Dancer, choreographer and philanthropist-Judith Jamison
Judith Anna Jamison (born May 10, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American dancer and choreographer, best known as the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Jamison began studying dance at age 10. She graduated from Germantown High School in 1961, and attended Fisk University at the age of 15 and the Philadelphia Dance Academy. In 1964, Agnes de Mille invited Jamison to dance in her ballet "The Four Marys" at the American Ballet Theatre.
Jamison moved to New York City in 1965 and joined the Alvin Ailey company. She soon became a principal dancer for Ailey and remained with the company until 1980. Among her most notable roles were "The Prodigal Prince" (1967), "Masekela Language" (1969), and especially "Cry" (1971), a 15-minute solo piece.
Jamison left the Alvin Ailey company to star in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, also based on Duke Ellington's music. During the 1980s, she began choreographing her own works. When Alvin Ailey died in 1989, Jamison was named artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has choreographed many works for the company since then.
Jamison's numerous awards include Kennedy Center Honors (1999) and the National Medal of Arts (2001). She won a prime time Emmy Award and an American Choreography Award for Outstanding Choreography for the PBS "Great Performances: Dance In America" special, "A Hymn for Alvin Ailey." She wrote an autobiography, "Dancing Spirit", published in 1993.