Sylvia Waters

Biography

Sylvia Waters was personally selected by Alvin Ailey in 1974 as Artistic Director of Ailey II and led the company for 38 years.  A graduate of The Juilliard School, Ms. Waters earned a B.S. in Dance prior to moving to Paris, where she appeared regularly on television.  She has also performed in Brussels and at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.  In 1968, Ms. Waters joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and toured with the Company until assuming leadership of Ailey II.  In 1997, she received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York at Oswego, and she has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.  Ms. Waters is a recipient of the Legacy Award as part of the 20th Annual IABD Festival, Syracuse University’s Women of Distinction Award, a Dance Magazine Award, and a “Bessie” Award.  Currently, Ms. Waters leads The Ailey Legacy Residency, a lecture, technique and repertory program for college-level students that looks definitively into the history and creative heritage of Alvin Ailey.
 

News & Press

Learn the opening section of Alvin Ailey's iconic work.
At the opening night of Ailey II's New York season in April, the last under Sylvia Waters' direction, the house was full of tears, cheers, and - before any dancing had even occured - a standing ovation.
Somewhere near the top of the modern-dance family tree, where the foliage is plentiful, you'll find Sylvia Waters. This season after 38 years on the job, Ms. Waters will step down as artistic director of Ailey II, the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where her main triumph has been to cultivate dancers and nurture their inner stars.
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