The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in New York City in 1958. It was the creative product of Alvin Ailey, a young African-American dancer whose early childhood years were spent picking cotton, and it consisted of six additional African American dancers. While it was not the first company of its kind, it would grow to become one of America's leading modern dance companies. Considering the times in which it began, and the fact that many young dance companies never make it beyond local performance seasons, it is amazing that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew beyond its meager beginnings in 1958.
Obalil '95, Deborah, "Dancin' to Freedom: A Historical Analysis of the Rise of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater" (1995). Honors Projects. Paper 26.