My Introduction to Judith Jamison


The first time I saw my sister, Judith, perform a classical dance routine with the Cleveland School of the Arts at Parade the Circle, may have been one of the first times I ever saw such dancing. These teenage girls showed real promise. It wasn’t a talent I possessed, but it was definitely one that I admired. I felt a strong connection to the music and to the movement of the dancers. She was really good at it. My sister did not go on to pursue dancing, but I have always wished she would have. Later, I was in the John Hope & Aurelia Franklin Library on the campus of Fisk University doing research for a paper, and I came across a book with Judith Jamison’s picture. She was standing on one foot, with the other pointed up in the air. Her poise was unforgettable. I have paid close attention to her ever since. She spent time studying dance at my Alma Mater, Fisk, and then went to the Philadelphia Dance Academy. Jamison has danced since the age of six studying ballet, tap, acrobatics, jazz, and primitive dance. She was accepted into the American Dance Theater and soon after became the protégé of Alvin Ailey touring the world with his dance company for fifteen years. She branched out and created her own ballet company, but when Alvin Ailey died in 1989, she merged with his company to keep the legacy alive. Her work fuses African motifs with modern dance. I’ve been blessed to see the Alvin Alvin Ailey Dance Theater perform several times, and each time, I always think about Jamison’s picture in that book in the library. I am pleased to say that the two of them together, are my favorite dancers and are definitely part of my Black History.

Thank you for reading,

In remembrance of Robert Nesta aka Bob Marley, Happy Birthday!