When Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd took their final bows with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) in August 2015, they knew exactly what their next step would be. Within two weeks they moved to St. Louis, Missouri, Antonio’s hometown, to become co-artistic directors of the dance program at Center of Creative Arts (COCA), the same performing arts center where Antonio had enrolled as a teenager. Their job involves guiding aspiring professional dancers and directing and choreographing performances for both the school and the performance stage.
As world-class performers, African Americans and committed life partners, the two men exemplify the uplifting spirit and passion of a life dedicated to the daily rigor of life in the dance studio. “You never arrive,” says Antonio, 35, who joined AAADT in 2004. “I learned that from Arthur Mitchell [founder and director of Dance Theatre of Harlem]. You want to be a student throughout your entire career. Coming from ballet into modern was so hard that every failure was a learning experience. So it was a success!”
His partner Kirven, 31 (the two, who’ve been together since 2005, married in 2013), shares this perspective. “There was never a year at Ailey when I didn’t feel a need to learn more,” he says.
“We came in knowing there would be a learning curve, but I welcome the challenge,” says Kirven, “whether it’s convincing an experienced faculty member to adapt her teaching methodology, or standing up to a parent who might want a child to progress more quickly than they should.”