Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Shares Free Educational Resources to Celebrate Its 65th Anniversary
March 27, 2024

As Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates its 65th anniversary year, the organization has embarked on an initiative to honor the legacy of its founder, Alvin Ailey, by providing free educational resources through PBS.

This past February, the first installment of a new eight-part documentary series on Ailey’s life and work, titled Portrait of Ailey, premiered on the PBS LearningMedia website, which provides free classroom-ready resources for educators. The series will continue to roll out episodes for online viewing in April and September (the first two episodes, “Alvin Ailey’s Texas Roots” and “Alvin Ailey’s California Inspirations,” are available to watch now). 

Created by Sylvia Waters, artistic director emerita of Ailey II, with Ailey archivist Dominique Singer, Portrait of Ailey combines rare historical photos and videos with contemporary footage to encompass Ailey’s lasting impact on dance. Each chapter is also accompanied by educational materials adapted from the Portrait of Ailey study guide. Placed to the right of each video frame on PBS LearningMedia, the materials include discussion questions, printable handouts, suggestions for additional research, and more. These resources were created by Catherine Gallant, a dance educator at PS 89 in New York City and director of Catherine Gallant/DANCE; and supervised by Waters, Singer, and Cathryn Williams, director of Ailey’s Arts In Education & Community Programs.

“Through this guide, students have opportunities to engage in their own art making within the mediums of visual arts, poetry, music, and dance, responding to discussion, peer interaction, writing, and movement prompts,” says Catherine Gallant in a release from Ailey. “We encourage students to build on what they learn about Alvin Ailey, using their own experience and knowledge to understand how dance expresses personal history, culture, and community experience.”

In addition, PBS is rebroadcasting its 2021 documentary American Masters: Ailey throughout the spring. It is also available for streaming (check local listings and, PBS Passport, Hulu, and Amazon Prime). Directed by Jamila Wignot, the acclaimed film includes archival footage and interviews, as well as exclusive insights into the Ailey organization’s work today.

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