Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater teaches cross-curriculum movement, dance and dance history at Orange County School of the Arts

Members of the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will provide Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) students and staff a once-in-a-lifetime training experience during a five-day artist-in-residence program at the school from March 11 through March 15. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is world renowned for its impactful choreography and performances, with repertoire highlighting important themes in American society.

During the program, students in the Commercial Dance and Classical & Contemporary Dance conservatories, as well as middle school students across all conservatories, will receive special training in the arts and academics. Members of the Ailey company will also provide a professional development session for OCSA staff to discuss integrating dance and movement into academic learning.

The program kicks off with “Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach,” which will be taught to approximately 260 eighth-grade students during their U.S. History classes. The curriculum uses Alvin Ailey’s signature piece, “Revelations,” which has been seen by more people across the globe than any other work of dance, as the theme for the coursework. Throughout this multi-day lesson, the students will learn the history and life story of Alvin Ailey, the company’s namesake and an innovative dancer, choreographer and Civil Rights activist. Students will engage in researching, writing, creating and performing during this in-depth study of dance, language arts and social studies. Students will also learn how movement and dance can be used to express passion and a personal story, similarly to the dance company’s performances.

“I am excited for our students to have a cross-curricular experience where they can see the intersection of arts and academics and how art can be used to further a cause and tell a story,” said OCSA Dean of Instruction Sally Lopez.

Members of the company will also teach dance conservatory students choreography from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s upcoming program at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Students will see the choreography in action when they attend a performance at the Music Center on April 3-7, following their participation in the residency at OCSA.

The residency concludes with a professional development course, where OCSA academic and arts faculty will discuss strategies for better engaging students, incorporating movement into learning and furthering the partnership with the dance company.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is visiting as part of OCSA’s annual Master Artist Series, which brings renowned guest artists and teachers to campus to give students one-of-a-kind training in the arts. The Master Artist Series is generously sponsored by Maureen and Michal Mekjian, the McBeth Foundation, Harriet and Sandy Sandhu, JE Foundation, the Donna L. Kendall Foundation, The O.L. Halsell Foundation, Kent and Brandi Barkouras, The Kimmel Family, Yamaha and Garys Fashion Island.

About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.

The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents – as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings and online platforms.

In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, “Revelations.” Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Mr. Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work.

Today, the company continues Mr. Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 235 works by over 90 choreographers have been part of the Ailey company’s repertory.

Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the company to unprecedented success. Ms. Jamison, in turn, personally selected Robert Battle to succeed her in 2011, and The New York Times declared he “has injected the company with new life.”

About Orange County School of the Arts

The nationally recognized Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) provides an unparalleled arts and academic education in a creative, challenging and nurturing environment to a diverse student body passionate about the arts, preparing them to reach their highest potential. Founded in 1987 and still led by visionary educator Ralph Opacic, Ed.D., OCSA currently serves nearly 2,200 gifted students in grades seven through 12 from more than 100 cities throughout California. In addition to a college-preparatory academic program, OCSA offers pre-professional arts training in 15 conservatories within the schools of applied arts, dance, fine & media arts, music and theatre. The nonprofit public charter school relies solely on private donations, totaling $10 million annually, to fund the pre-professional arts training programs. For additional information, visit

This article was released by the Orange County School of the Arts.