DANCER TURNED director Judith Jamison stood on a podium at Morgan State University with Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to announce the state's most ambitious effort ever to bring professional dance into Maryland schools and theaters.
Yesterday's announcement by Jamison, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will bring her company to Maryland for a three-year residency of teaching and performing.
"Every time we go on stage, every time we touch a child's heart, we celebrate life, and I'm so glad we're doing it in the state of Maryland," Jamison told an audience of educators, politicians and business people.
The residency will be overseen by the newly formed Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation of Maryland and will include AileyCamp, a summer dance camp.
Master classes taught by Jamison at Morgan State will begin next week. The company will be in Baltimore for five weeks from Jan. 14 to Feb. 17 next year to rehearse, teach and perform at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre from Feb. 12 to 17.
The company's junior troupe, Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, will perform and give lectures in various cities beginning next April.
Jamison was one of the most accomplished and powerful of American dancers during the 1960s and 70s, when she was featured with the company, appearing in some of Ailey's best choreography.
Since Ailey's death in December, Jamison has carried on his mission "to entertain, to educate by literally going out into the community," Jamison said in an interview after the announcement.
Ailey was known best for molding a racially integrated company that not only preserved the integrity of American modern dance, but depicted the Afro-American experience through a dance style that combined jazz, ballet and modern dance.
Jamison was perhaps best known for the forceful and wrenching solo Ailey created for her in 1971 called, "Cry," which Ailey dedicated to "all black women everywhere -- especially our mothers."
Yesterday Jamison presented Gov. Schaefer with a signed photograph of herself dancing in "Cry." She presented Mayor Schmoke with another signed photo of herself.
The newly formed board of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation of Maryland will now get on with the business of fund-raising.
Board Chairman Kenneth Thompson, a Baltimore lawyer, said the board needs to raise $1.5 million in the next 2 1/2 years.
The Maryland State Arts Council has already agreed to give $110,000 to the venture. Thompson said the board is also trying to get other government funds to help the company's residency here.
The Maryland residency is similar to a residency the Ailey company has established in Kansas City.