Reporters may contact: Kami Duncan
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
(214) 768-2788

Reporters may contact: Victoria Winkelman
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
(214) 768-3785

October 12, 2001


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Judith Jamison, renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher and artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), will receive the 2001 Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts on November 3 at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.

Prior to accepting the award, Jamison and members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will spend several days on the SMU campus. They will teach dance classes to university students as well as a master class that will include students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and members of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Some SMU students from the Division of Dance will be selected by the Ailey company to join them at the Meadows Award ceremony in performing Divining, the first work Jamison choreographed for Alvin Ailey in 1984.

Ms. Jamison will also participate in two public evening events at SMU. The first, “A Conversation with Judith Jamison,” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wed., Oct. 31 in Caruth Auditorium at the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. Carole Brandt, dean of the Meadows School, will moderate the open forum discussing Jamison’s career, her inspiring vision and the “intimate, enduring art” of dance.

The second event brings together dance experts from around the country for a panel discussion, entitled “The Preservation of Dance,” at 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 1 in Caruth Auditorium. In addition to Jamison, the panel will include moderator Shelley Berg, associate professor of dance at SMU; Thomas deFrantz, associate professor of theatre arts at MIT; Ilene Fox, executive director of the Dance Notation Bureau; Richard Long, Haygood Professor in The Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University; and Madeleine Nichols, curator of the dance collection at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Each event will be followed by a reception in the Owen Arts Center foyer at 9:00 p.m. Both events are FREE and open to the public. However, tickets are required (limit 2 per person) and may be reserved by calling the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787.

“Judith Jamison has left an indelible mark on the world of dance,” said Meadows School Dean Carole Brandt. “Her life and career are monuments to her passion, her pride and her vision. The faculty and students of the Meadows School are honored to share this rare and uncompromising dancing spirit with our community of family and friends.”

A native of Philadelphia, Judith Jamison was born in 1943 and studied with the late Marion Cuyjet. She was discovered by legendary choreographer Agnes de Mille in 1964 and made her New York debut that year with the American Ballet Theatre. In 1965, she became a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with whom she performed for 15 years. During her tenure there as a company member, Jamison danced her most enduring roles, including her signature piece, the tour-de-force solo Cry. Choreographed by Alvin Ailey specifically for Jamison, Cry continues in the Ailey company repertoire today and remains a powerful tribute to African-American women.

Jamison went on to star in Sophisticated Ladies on Broadway and was the subject of a PBS special, The Dance Maker, in 1988. That same year, she debuted her own company, The Jamison Project. In 1989 she returned to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to honor Ailey’s request that she be appointed artistic director following his death.

As a highly-regarded choreographer, Jamison has created many notable works, including Rift (1991); Hymn, her critically acclaimed tribute to Ailey featuring a libretto by Anna Deavere Smith (1993); Riverside (1995); and Sweet Release, a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis which premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center in 1996.

In her role as artistic director of the AAADT, Jamison has propelled the organization in new directions. The Company has performed at the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival, made national appearances in American Express television and print ads, and performed in South Africa. A pioneer in dance education, Jamison also has helped implement a multicultural curriculum at The Ailey School, developed a collaborative degree program with the school and Fordham University, and expanded community outreach programs.

She has garnered a long list of awards and honors, including a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts in 1999 and honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale and Juilliard. Her autobiography, Dancing Spirit, was published by Doubleday in 1993.

Presented annually by the Meadows School, the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts honors the accomplishments of an artist at the pinnacle of a distinguished career. It is funded by a generous endowment from The Meadows Foundation. Jamison will accept the award from Foundation President and CEO Linda Evans and SMU President R. Gerald Turner at a formal ceremony hosted by the Meadows School of the Arts and The Meadows Foundation.

“The Meadows Foundation endowed this award to commemorate Al Meadows’ belief in the pursuit of excellence in art, education and life. Certainly, Judith Jamison embodies that belief. Her life has been dedicated to dance, both in performance and in helping those with talent pursue their individual dreams of success,” said Linda Evans, president and chief executive officer of The Meadows Foundation.

“The opportunity to have this distinguished artist interact with the students at SMU is the most important aspect of this award. It will enable them to learn from one of the most extraordinary dancer/choreographers of our time. Her presence at the Meadows School of the Arts brings to life Al Meadows’ dream of providing these students with educational excellence,” Evans said.

The Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts provides a forum for the artist to share ideas and aspirations with the students of the university who will be professional artists and patrons in the future. The Meadows Award is a permanent memorial to Algur H. Meadows (1899-1978), a distinguished arts patron and benefactor of the Meadows School of the Arts.

The award, which carries a cash prize of $50,000, has previously been awarded to artistic luminaries Ingmar Bergman, Peter Brook, Santiago Calatrava, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, John Houseman, Angela Lansbury, Jacob Lawrence, Wynton Marsalis, Arthur Miller, Leontyne Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Mstislav Rostropovich, Stephen Sondheim and Paul Taylor.

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