The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a modern dance company based in New York, New York. It was founded in 1958 by choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey. It is made up of 30 dancers, led by their artistic director Robert Battle and associate artistic director Masazumi Chaya.
Alvin Ailey and a group of young Black modern dancers first performed at New York's 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association (92nd Street Y), under the name Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), in March 1958. At this point in time, Alvin Ailey was the company's Director, Choreographer, and principal dancer. The company started as an ensemble of only seven dancers, plus their choreographer, and many guest choreographers. Following their first performance, which included Alvin Ailey's Blues Suite, the company traveled on what were known as the "station wagon tours"; in 1960, the AAADT became a resident company of the 51st Street YWCA's Clark Center for the Performing Arts.
It was during this period that Ailey choreographed his famous work Revelations, a character dance done to traditional music. In 1962, Ailey changed his all-black dance company into a multi-racial group, believing that there was a kind of reverse chauvinism to anything all black. In that same year, the company was chosen to tour the Far East, Southeast Asia and Australia as part of President John F. Kennedy's "President's Special International Program for Cultural Presentations". AAADT was the first "Black" company to travel for Kennedy's program. Judith Jamison, a star of the company for 15 years, joined the company in 1965.