Many of us have heard the old saying, “give me my flowers while I’m alive, so that I can smell them.” Well, Judith Jamison received her flowers last night. Judith Jamison, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1989, announced in 2008, that she would retire in 2011. Her adoring fans could not stop clapping last night at AAADT’s January 2, 2011 performance at the NY City Center which was billed as Jamison’s Farewell.
As Jamison appeared at the end of the show, the crowd erupted with applause. As family members, staff and dancers appeared and presented Jamison with bouquets of flowers, she couldn’t hold them all in her long, slender arms, so the flowers were placed at her feet. There she stood – this tall, stoic, regal, dancer who is also an author and recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, with beautiful flowers, scores and scores of them at her feet. A fitting scene for Jamison, a woman who filled our lives with tremendous beauty and grace for over two decades.
The event which included works such as Festa Barocca, Suite Otis, Cry and the crowd-pleaser, Caught, ended with Revelations the 50 year old signature choreographic work of AAADT.
Jamison first thanked the audience for the standing ovation and applause which seemed to last forever. Then she complimented her dancers, staff, family and friends who let their little lights shine. “Well, they’re not little lights anymore, it’s a big light now,” said Jamison who was undoubtedly referring to AAADT’s journey from performances at the 92nd Street Y to the its new $56 million state-of-the-art headquarters at Ninth Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan, which was acquired under Jamison’s leadership.
Jamison was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Dance Series: a Tribute to Judith Jamison on September 7, 2010. The ceremony, which was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, featured “a little something for everyone” including performances by members of the Paul Taylor Dance Co., the Washington Ballet, Super Cr3w and New York City Ballet. “What brings us together today is the extraordinary career of an amazing, phenomenal, fly woman — the renowned dancer, choreographer, and artistic director, Judith Jamison” said Mrs. Obama. She is “a true visionary in the world of dance.”