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Alvin Ailey Resumes Annual Workshop with Grade 2


Alvin Ailey Resumes Annual Workshop with Grade 2

After a two-year hiatus, St. Patrick's was fortunate to welcome artists from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The New York-based dance company returned to St. Patrick’s in February in coordination with their residency at the Kennedy Center. Artists spent an hour with students teaching them a portion of the company’s choreography in a workshop on Thursday, February 9. 

While AAADT has partnerships with a number of schools in New York City, their 2014 visit to St. Patrick's was the first time that members of the company worked with students in Washington, D.C. That visit began a successful partnership and an annual event that has become a highlight of the Grade 2 literacy curriculum. The visit tied in with the exploration of the Pinkney family of children's authors and illustrators. Four members of the Pinkney family have produced more than 200 books, many of which focus on important people and events related to the African American experience. Jerry Pinkney and Gloria Jean Pinkney met in art school and married. They became children's book authors and illustrators, and their son Brian and his wife Andrea Davis Pinkney also followed that career path.

Grade 2 students read the book Alvin Ailey, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney. The book profiled the late iconic dancer and choreographer, whose dance company still performs around the world—and, as luck would have it—was performing at the Kennedy Center this month. AAADT, sometimes referred to simply as "Alvin Ailey," was established in 1958 and, by 1962, was so successful that it was selected as part of John F. Kennedy's "President's Special International Program for Cultural Presentations." Through this program, the company gained worldwide acclaim. In the ensuing years, the group became one of the country's premier dance companies and dance education organizations.

Grade 2 students attended a performance at the Kennedy Center on February 10, where they saw Ailey classics and new works, including Ailey’s signature Revelations. This experience provided an opportunity for students to learn about an important piece of American cultural heritage, the rich history in which Alvin Ailey's compositions are steeped, and the joy of movement. 

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