Ailey's Leap to Baltimore


The association between Baltimore and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater should generously reward both. For Baltimore it means a world renowned dance company will call Baltimore home for a month and, theater performances aside, spread its talent in visits, workshops and master classes to a variety of institutions to inspire and instruct the young dancers of Maryland. The Ailey team's farm club will tour the state.

The company created by the late Alvin Ailey and now directed by his protege, Judith Jamison, will kick off its American spring tour and also its Baltimore association tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at the Mechanic Theater. What the company is getting from the association is a chance to spread its gospel in fertile soil, to enlarge its audience and to nurture talent.

The residency part of the relationship is now scheduled for April. It is something the troupe pioneered in Kansas City, and will extend to a summer dance camp. A formidable fund-raising responsibility has been undertaken by the foundation that arose for the purpose, to cement the relationship for the three years that have been agreed. Its task is all the more daunting in a recession, which has clipped the wings of arts organizations and seen a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra tour called off and the fledgling Maryland Ballet's season wiped out.

The recession is cyclical but the hunger for art endures. The Ailey troupe is famous for exuberance, verve and style. Its spring residency can only help strengthen interest in dance and, in the long run, revive support for home-grown efforts.

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