I somehow missed a post yesterday! Thankfully I follow some incredible creatives on Instagram who inspire me daily, in fact so much so that I’m covering three inspirational artists and art forms in one post!
I’m convinced designer Duro Olowu uses his Instagram page as a mood board for his collections, because he finds the most beautiful shots to share. Today he posted a picture of Judith Jamison & Mikhail Baryshnikov which naturally put me on the path of sourcing the shot in search of the story behind it.
Modern dance legend Alvin Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in 1958 and since then the dance company has been dedicated to “preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience”. The dance theatre also serves as a steadfast champion for arts education. In 1976 Alvin Ailey hosted a benefit gala in support of the many cultural and educational programs sponsored by the theatre. Ailey created a piece called the “Pas de Duke”, a play on the traditional pas de deux, which is a rigorous performance that consists of 5 solos and duets performed with flawless precision and execution and was performed to the music of Duke Ellington. The original Pas de Duke featured Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov, both legends in their own right. This collaboration among Ailey, Jamison and Baryshnikov is simply stunning in photos, so I can only imagine what it was like to witness it live. The piece has since been recreated numerous times.
I loved hearing how Jamison and Baryshnikov described the rehearsal process for the Pas de Duke in this NY Times interview:
“Alvin moved deliciously, like a cat. He luxuriated in movement. He could move ever so slightly, and you would know how big or how small you should move. And when it wasn’t what he wanted, he would laugh. But, see, we’d all laugh.”
I have always enjoyed the fluid fusion between dance and photography. Here are some additional shots of my favorite shots taken of a few of the greatest black dancers to ever grace the stage.
The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.