THE Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison in "Cry."

WOW! What a night!

The Winspear Opera House in downtown Dallas was buzzing with excitement for the start of the Brinker International Forum with THE Judith Jamison. I splurged and brought an orchestra seat which put me five rows away from the divine Ms. Jamison.

For those who are not familiar with her, Judith Jamison is an inspiration for all women, but especially African-American women. Jamison joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and quickly became a star as well as Mr. Ailey’s protegé. He created some of his more enduring roles for her, including the iconic solo “Cry.” After Mr. Ailey’s death, Jamison took over as the company’s artistic director and now after 22 years she is passing the torch to Robert Battle.

Mr. Alvin Ailey.

With Dance magazine Editor in Chief Wendy Perron as the moderator, Jamison captivated us with her quick wit, humorous anecdotes and honest answers. Here’s just a few of the things she had to say:

Talking about her early training: “I learned Dunham, ballet and tap. You must have Dunham under your belt people!”

Her impression of Agnes De Mille (who discovered Jamison in 1964): “Oh, she was a humdinger.”

Her thoughts on “Revelations”: “Revelations is an American classic. I am so proud of it.”

On her relationship with Alvin Ailey: “It’s like when two people meet and the universe feels just right. No, I am not talking about Kim Kardashsian. When he moved, I moved. We were on the same spiritual wavelength. We loved each other. I still love him.”

Judith Jamison and Robert Battle. Photo: Andrew Eccles

On passing the torch to Robert: “I was happy to be the pilot of that ship [the Ailey Company], but like Alvin chose me, I chose Robert.”

Then it was time for some questions and answers:

Q: How do you help dancers get out of their heads and into the soul of the dance?

A:”You can’t over think dance or you won’t get to the substance of it. Sometimes those moments can occur just from sheer tiredness or from our bodies unwillingness to take another step.”

Q: Where does classical ballet fit in the modern world? (I had my friend Claire ask her this question during the meet and greet after the talk)

A: Paraphrased: “We must teach the technique and structure of classic ballet but allow freedom of expression. Try to demonstrate how to push the limits while using classic training.”

What a once in a lifetime opportunity last night. I will not forget it. 🙂

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About kddance

I am a dance fanatic living in Dallas, TX. Not only do I teach dance but I also love writing about it. My love for dance started at the age of six when my mom signed me up for my first dance class. I have training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern and acrobatics. In college I minored in dance and majored in journalism. I have had articles published in Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher and the Dance Council of North Texas' DANCE publication. Let me share my stories with you.
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