Alvin Ailey Legacy Residency Sept. 30-Oct. 4

Sylvia Waters, longtime director of Ailey II, to discuss choreographer’s life and work

Sylvia Waters and Hector Mercado in Alvin Ailey’s Streams. Waters will be on campus Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 as part of the Alvin Ailey Legacy Residency. Photo courtesy of Ailey Archives.

In 1958, Alvin Ailey and a small group of dancers staged a performance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The concert helped revolutionize perceptions of African-American dancers, and led to the founding of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Sylvia Waters. Photo by Eduardo Patino.

Next week, Sylvia Waters, a former principal dancer with the company and founding artistic director of Ailey II, will be on campus as part of the Alvin Ailey Legacy Residency. Hosted by the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, the residency will explore Ailey’s work through a variety of free lectures and workshops with WUSTL students.

Events will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, when Waters speaks on “The Genesis of a Lifelong Vision.” The talk — the first in a series of three lectures — will focus on Ailey’s early years in New York, his relationships with modern dance contemporaries and the beginnings of his own choreography.

Then, at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, Waters will discuss “The Ailey Chronicle,” covering the choreographer’s career from 1958-1980. The final lecture “A New Home to the Present,” covering 1980-2012, begins at 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4.

All three talks take place in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, located in Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-5858 or visit

While on campus, Waters and Elizabeth Roxas, a faculty member with the Ailey School, will host master classes for students in the PAD’s Dance Program.

In addition, Waters and Roxas will work with students to set sections from some of Ailey’s iconic dances. Those students then will perform an Ailey medley as part of Rootedness, Mobility and Migration, the 2012 Washington University Dance Theatre Concert, which will take place Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Edison Theatre.

A graduate of The Juilliard School, Waters joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1968 and toured with the Company until 1974, when Ailey personally selected her to serve as artistic director of Ailey II — a position she held for 38 years.

Roxas danced with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Ohad Naharin and Joyce Trisler Dance Company before joining Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where she served as a principal dancer from 1984-1998. The New York Times described her as “a cool, still, lyrical center of the Ailey storm.”

Elizabeth Roxas, a former principal dancer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, also will be on campus as part of the Alvin Ailey Legacy Residency. Photo courtesy of Ailey Archives.