Judith Jamison


Judith Anna Jamison (born May 10, 1943, 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 notable roles were “The Prodigal Prince” (1967), “Masekela Langage” (1969), and especially “Cry” (1971), a 15-minute solo piece. She married fellow Ailey dancer Miguel Godreau in 1972; they divorced two years later. In 1977, she danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov in Ailey’s “Pas de Duke,” set to the music of Duke Ellington.

Jamison left the Alvin Ailey company to star in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, also based on 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.

She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater



Judith Jamison, Aspects of a Dancer by Olga Maynard
Biography – Jamison, Judith (1944-): An article from: Contemporary Authors by Gale Reference Team

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