Founded in 1958 by the pioneering dancer, choreographer, and cultural leader Alvin Ailey, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) has grown to become one of the world’s premier dance companies and the largest modern dance company in the country.
Founded in 1958 by the pioneering dancer, choreographer, and cultural leader Alvin Ailey, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) has grown to become one of the world’s premier dance companies and the largest modern dance company in the country. AAADT is supported by the nonprofit Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation (Foundation), whose mission is to further the vision of Alvin Ailey by building an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training and education, and community programs for all people, using the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages, and backgrounds. The Foundation also supports The Ailey School, Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs, Ailey Extension, and Ailey II.
AAADT has performed in 71 countries for more than 25 million people at venues across the globe, as well as tens of millions more people via television appearances. The company’s repertory includes more than 250 works by more than 100 choreographers. In 2008 AAADT it was hailed as a “vital American cultural ambassador to the world” by the United States Senate. Before Alvin Ailey’s death in 1989, legendary dancer Judith Jamison was named as his successor. She led the company for 21 years before renowned choreographer and dancer Robert Battle became Artistic Director in 2011. AAADT is based in midtown Manhattan at The Joan Weill Center for Dance, the largest complex dedicated solely to dance in the city, which includes 16 studios, two classrooms, and a 270-seat theater.
Co-led by Directors Tracy Inman and Melanie Person, The Ailey School offers a broad range of dance training to thousands of students ages three to 25 annually, as well as a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance in association with Fordham University. Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs provide thousands of young people from diverse backgrounds with the chance to explore their creative potential through a range of programs, including workshops, classes, and discounted or free tickets to performances. Founded in 2005, Ailey Extension offers dance and fitness classes open to the public in a variety of techniques, including ballet, West African, Horton, and Zumba.
Ailey II was founded in 1974 and is universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today’s most outstanding emerging choreographers. Originally known as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, the company was led by esteemed dancer Sylvia Waters from its inception to 2011 and by Troy Powell from 2012 to 2020. Ailey II is comprised of 12 promising young dancers who are selected from within The Ailey School through an audition process led by the Artistic Director, Ailey II in collaboration with The Ailey School Co-Directors and AAADT’s artistic team. These dancers spend two years with the company before joining major national and international dance companies, as well as appearing on Broadway, television, and in films.
Ailey II dancers experience an extensive and rigorous touring schedule to more than 30 cities throughout the United States and abroad each year. The dancers gain preparation for careers as professional dancers through advanced technical training, individualized mentorship, broad performance experience, and opportunities to work directly with a broad range of choreographers. Each season runs from July to June of the following year. In addition to restaging existing works, such as the beloved Revelations by Alvin Ailey, the company commissions two to four new works by a diverse range of emerging choreographers. Ailey II holds a one- to two-week-long season in New York City each spring, where its home audience can enjoy the company’s performances. Dancers also take part in extensive community engagement activities at public schools, colleges, and in underserved communities. Due to COVID-19, all of Ailey II’s scheduled performances through June 2021 have been put on hiatus. The Ailey II dancers are anticipated to return in late-2021.
The Foundation is governed by a 25-member board of trustees, led by Chairman Daria L. Wallach and President Anthony S. Kendall. Artistic Director Robert Battle and Executive Director Bennett Rink jointly oversee an administrative and artistic team of 63 employees, including 28 AAADT dancers, 19 office and crew members, and three artistic personnel, as well as 67 other full- and part-time staff members and 200 full- and part-time faculty members.
The Artistic Director, Ailey II will curate and oversee all aspects of the company’s artistic and educational initiatives while honoring the traditions, legacy, and creative spirit of Alvin Ailey. Building upon his new, distinct vision for Ailey II, this individual will select repertory from a broad range of choreographers with varied backgrounds and styles, develop the dancers as versatile artists, and help showcase their talents and skills. As a teacher and mentor, the Artistic Director, Ailey II will create a bridge from the classroom to the stage, guiding and accompanying the dancers on tours, introducing them to a wide network of dance professionals, resolving professional challenges, and providing continuous encouragement for their growth as individuals and a company. As the public face of Ailey II, this individual will represent the company through community partnerships and actively engage with audiences, donors, and the press, as well as at workshops, performances, galas, and other special events. Reporting to AAADT’s Artistic Director and Executive Director, the Artistic Director, Ailey II will collaborate with all parts of the Foundation, including senior directors from AAADT, The Ailey School, Ailey Extension, and Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs.
Role and Responsibilities
Professional Mentorship and Training
- Attract, audition, and select dancers to join Ailey II from The Ailey School in collaboration with the School Co-Directors and AAADT artistic team.
- Nurture dancers as they transition from students to professionals, guiding them through the rigors and challenges of an extensive touring schedule.
- Expose dancers to a broad range of pedagogical and artistic techniques, perspectives, and ideas in order to broaden their knowledge and skills.
- Introduce dancers to other choreographers and Artistic Directors with whom they can develop relationships to help their future careers.
- Accompany dancers on tour throughout the United States and abroad, providing support, guidance, and regular individualized feedback, including assisting with the creation of their respective dance portfolios.
- Teach selected company classes both at home and on tour and engage appropriate teaching and artistic personnel.
- Assess, understand, and appreciate the differing levels of training and experience that each dancer brings and what they need for future growth.
- Foster a work environment of mutual respect and cooperation where dancers feel safe and supported.
Artistic Curation and Company Development
- Conceptualize, plan, and develop Ailey II’s artistic vision, representing the core mission and vision of AAADT while also crafting its own unique vision that is separate from, but integrated with, the rest of the organization.
- Honor the legacy and values of AAADT, balancing a season’s repertory with classical works by Mr. Ailey while taking risks with new, cutting-edge works from emerging choreographers.
- Develop and monitor artistic plans and budgets in partnership with the Director of Company Business Affairs.
- Engage the Rehearsal Director and actively mentor this individual.
- Proactively support the Stage Manager, Lighting and Sound Supervisor, Wardrobe Supervisor, and other crew members as deeply integrated into Ailey II, particularly when challenging production circumstances arise.
- Regularly attend dance performances, keeping an eye out for new, emerging choreographers within the field.
- Ensure that dancers maintain a high standard of artistic excellence.
- Embrace innovative, creative, and accessible digital approaches to dance making and performing.
Community Engagement and Donor Cultivation
- Serve as the principal spokesperson on artistic matters pertaining to Ailey II.
- Cultivate relationships with donors, funders, and board members while assisting to raise significant contributed income for the Foundation in collaboration with the Foundation’s development department.
- Actively participate in special events, including galas and benefits in New York City and on tour, in order to extend Ailey II’s reach and visibility nationally and internationally.
- Collaborate on marketing strategies and campaigns so that the dancers are promoted in a way that best aligns with the company’s vision and respects the individual.
- Embrace other community engagement and donor cultivation activities as needed.
Traits and Characteristics
The Artistic Director, Ailey II will be an empathetic, caring, and nurturing leader who is deeply committed to the well-being and professional development of Ailey II dancers. They will be passionate about dance education and dedicated to the mission and values of the Foundation. The Artistic Director will possess exemplary ethics and integrity while inspiring others with their creative approach to dance, education, and problem solving. With a welcoming and patient demeanor, they will gain the trust, confidence, and respect of dancers, staff, and faculty members. A charismatic leader, the Artistic Director, Ailey II will be a strong communicator with a collaborative approach.
Other key competencies include:
- Leadership and Coaching – The ability to inspire, build trust, and demonstrate integrity in making transparent decisions that are best for the company while supporting the professional growth of the dancers.
- Diplomacy and Professional Accountability – The capacity to effectively and sensitively address and resolve difficult issues with compassion, while taking responsibility for personal actions and professional results.
- Time, Priority, and Project Management – The dexterity to effectively manage multiple tasks and responsibilities in order to stay on schedule while establishing high performance standards that ensure adequate resources are available to obtain required results.
- Resiliency and Self Starting – The acumen to overcome setbacks and remain optimistic in light of adversity, creating an environment where the emotions and effects of stressful events can be opportunities to improve and grow.
No specific educational degree is required but at least 10 years of progressively senior artistic and/or educational leadership experience is needed. The Artistic Director may be an active choreographer whose work may be included in Ailey II’s repertory but this is not a prerequisite. A deep passion and knowledge of dance forms and styles, as well as a broad network to dance professionals, is crucial. The successful candidate should have significant experience of working with, supervising, and mentoring young professionals.
Compensation and Benefits
The Foundation provides a competitive and equitable compensation package with benefits that include paid vacation, sick leave, personal days, and holidays; health, long-term disability, and life insurances; and a matching 403(b) retirement plan.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity or the anticipated salary range, please contact:
Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau, President or Mr. Geoff Chang, Vice President
Arts Consulting Group
292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201 (Dr. Thibodeau) Ext. 218 (Mr. Chang)
Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications without discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, veteran status, citizenship status, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.