(b Philadelphia, 10 May 1943)
US dancer, choreographer, and director. She studied at the Judimar School of Dance, at the Philadelphia Dance Academy, where she was discovered by Agnes de Mille, and later with Tudor and Maria Swoboda. She made her New York debut as a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre, dancing in de Mille's The Four Marys in 1965. Later in 1965 she joined the Alvin Ailey company where she became one of its leading dancers. Inspired by her dramatic, statuesque stage presence Ailey choreographed many roles for her, including the solo Cry (1971) which established her international reputation. Other choreographers who also created for her included Neumeier (Legend of Joseph, Vienna, 1977) and Béjart (Le Spectre de la rose, 1979). In 1980 she left the Ailey company to work as a freelance dancer and choreographer, starring in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies in 1981 and briefly running her own company, the Jamison Project. After Ailey's death in 1989 she was appointed artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She widened the company's repertoire by adding creations of her own and by bringing in works by Lar Lubovitch and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar among others. She also oversaw the company's move to its purpose-built home in New York. A list of her own choreography includes Divining (Ailey company, 1984), Just Call Me Dance (for Béjart's company, 1984), Time Out (for Washington Ballet, 1986), Time In (1986), Into the Life (1987), Tease (1988), Forgotten Time (1989), Rift (1991), Hymn (1993), Riverside (1995), and Sweet Release (1996).
Subjects: Dance — History.