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Grade 2 Attends Alvin Ailey Performance at Kennedy Center 


Grade 2 Attends Alvin Ailey Performance at Kennedy Center 

The New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company returned to St. Patrick’s in coordination with their residency at the Kennedy Center. Artists spent an hour with Grade 2 students, teaching them a portion of the company’s choreography in a workshop on Thursday, February 8. 

While AAADT has partnerships with several schools in New York City, their 2014 visit to St. Patrick's marked 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 ties in with exploring 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, married, and became children's book authors and illustrators. Their son, Brian, and his wife, Andrea Davis Pinkney, also pursued careers in children’s book writing and illustration. 

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 worldwide, including here at the Kennedy Center. 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. The group became one of the country’s premier dance companies and dance education organizations in the ensuing years.

Grade 2 students attended a performance at the Kennedy Center on February 9, where they saw Ailey classics and new works, including Ailey’s signature Revelations, seeing on stage elements of the choreography they learned with the Alvin Ailey artists the day prior. This experience allows students to learn about an essential 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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