Born in Los Angeles in 1931, Carmen de Lavallade would have major ballet influences (including Janet Collins, her cousin and the first black Prima Ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City). At 14 she would begin her dance career and by the age of 16 when she graduated high school, her life was quickly carrying her forward to a life of dance.

Carmen worked with ballet icons like Lester Horton, and of course, Alvin Ailey. In fact, in the advertisement of their upcoming program, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater describes Carmen as “the woman who introduced Mr. Ailey to dance.” Their partnership was undoubtedly special. In 1954, Alvin Ailey moved to New York City specifically to partner with Carmen in her Broadway debut in the production of House of Flowers.

To celebrate Carmen’s work and her influence on Ailey and his company, a one-night-only event is being held at the Ailey Theater showcasing current Ailey dancers in roles originally belonging to Carmen. Among these are a series of excerpts from some of her greatest roles originally choreographed by legends like Ailey, Horton, and even Carmen herself.

Dancers will also perform The Call choreographed by Ronald K. Brown and Ailey’s Revelations alongside the world premiere of Darrel Grand Moultrie’s reflection of sharing his passion, Ounce of Faith.

This celebration of Carmen de Lavallade’s work takes place on June 16 at 7:30pm. You can buy tickets here.