Thursday, March 6, 2008

End of an Era

While on tour in Atlanta, the great Judith Jamison, artistic director and visionary of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, announced to her company that she would be stepping down in early 2011. Ms. Jamison's retirement will come after 20 years at the helm of what is arguably the most successful modern-dance company in the world. In December 1989, founder and mentor Alvin Ailey tapped Ms. Jamison to succeed him shortly before his death.

When Ms. Jamison inherited the artistic reins of the company it was a cultural powerhouse, but at risk of becoming a financial disaster. The Ailey's operating budget was, in comparison, a meager $6.5 million with an expected deficit that would reach just over $1 million. Under Ms. Jamison's guide, the company rebounded and soared by not only maintaining and extending its cultural reach, but also becoming a fiscal dream. With a current budget of almost $25 million and a hefty endowment of $22 million (surplus), Alvin Ailey is one of the best-run, stable and beloved dance companies in the world.

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