History & Philosophy
The Ailey School honors the vision of Alvin Ailey by providing superior professional dance training and artistic leadership. Students of all ages and nationalities come from all over the world to train in our nurturing environment of creativity, passion, and professionalism through an accredited curriculum led by esteemed faculty, staff, and choreographers who produce outstanding dance professionals of tomorrow.
1969: Mr. Ailey launches his school, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (AAADC), with 125 students in Brooklyn.
1970: AAADC moves to a new location in Manhattan, under the co-direction of Mr. Ailey and Pearl Lang.
1974: Mr. Ailey launches the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (later re-named Ailey II) as a bridge between the School and the professional dance world. He appoints Ailey dancer Sylvia Waters to run the company.
1982: AAADC receives official accreditation from National Association of Schools of Dance.
1984: Denise Jefferson, on faculty since 1974, is named Director. Under her stewardship over the next 25 years, student enrollment grew exponentially and she oversaw the training of generations of countless artists.
1998: The Ailey School/Fordham University BFA Program welcomes its first class of freshmen. This program is considered to be the first association of its kind between a dance organization and a traditional liberal arts college.
1999: AAADC is renamed The Ailey School.
2004: The Ailey School moves into its permanent home at The Joan Weill Center for Dance
2010: Following the passing of Denise Jefferson, her associate directors Tracy Inman and Melanie Person are named Co-Directors of the School, which now trains over 3,500 students each year.
2012: Sylvia Waters retires as Artistic Director of Ailey II after 38 years, and her longtime associate director Troy Powell is appointed Artistic Director of Ailey II.
2017: The Ailey School continues to expand with the opening of the Elaine Wynn and Family Education Wing. With this addition, the building now encompasses 87,000 square feet with 16 rehearsal studios, two classrooms, a 275-seat theater, physical therapy facilities, a library, a costume shop, administrative offices, and more – making the School's home, the Joan Weill Center for Dance, the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the world capital of dance.
2019: The Ailey School celebrates its 50th anniversary.