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Floor Statements

Floor Statement on H. Res. 1088, Recognizing and Commending the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution honoring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. I would like to thank Chairman Miller, Ranking Member McKeon, and the rest of my colleagues on the Education and Labor Committee for bringing this resolution to the floor.

Founded in 1958, Ailey has become widely recognized as one of the world's premier modern dance companies. In its 50-year history, Ailey has performed for an estimated 21 million people in 71 countries on six continents. The troupe's signature work, ``Revelations,'' has been seen by more people across the globe than any other work of dance.

Alvin Ailey was born into an impoverished childhood in the small, segregated town of Rogers, Texas . Dedicated to promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience, Ailey began offering opportunities to black dancers when there were few.

``Revelations,'' which draws upon the influences of black spirituals, gospel music, and blues, epitomizes the universality of art that Ailey sought to explore. Of this groundbreaking work, he said: ``Its roots are in American Negro culture, which is part of the whole country's heritage. The dance speaks to everyone.''

By 1963, the troupe had begun welcoming dancers of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, and translating their experiences into some of the most riveting works of dance of the 20th century. The company now performs works by a wide range of choreographers, both emerging and established, from across the globe, totaling more than 200 works by over 70 choreographers.

In 1982, Alvin Ailey received the United Nations Peace Medal, and in 2001, President George W. Bush recognized the Ailey and Artistic Director Judith Jamison with the National Medal of Arts, making the Ailey the first dance company to be honored with this award.

Ailey continues to make a lasting impact in the dance world through its arts in education and community programs, which provide more than 100,000 young people from diverse cultural, social, and economic backgrounds the opportunity to explore their creative potential, not only in New York, but in cities throughout the United States . Ailey II, the junior company, reaches more than 69,000 people each year, and brings its inspiring performances to smaller communities across North America .

I am proud that Ailey calls my congressional district in New York City home, and has made the Joan Weill Center for Dance the largest facility dedicated exclusively to dance in the United States .

I wish to thank Ailey for all it has done to break cultural barriers through the arts. I especially want to thank Judith Jamison, Artistic Director, and Sharon Gersten Luckman, Executive Director, who keep Alvin Ailey's artistic and social vision alive today.

I urge all my colleagues to support this resolution congratulating the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for its 50 years as a cultural ambassador to the world, and thanking them for their outstanding service to future generations of artists.
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