History & Philosophy

In 1969, Alvin Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York with an initial enrollment of 125 students. Guided by the belief that dance instruction should be made available to everyone, Mr. Ailey joined forces with Pearl Lang in 1970 to establish the American Dance Center in Manhattan.

In 1982, The Ailey School and its programs received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Dance and continue to flourish under the co-direction of Tracy Inman and Melanie Person. A prestigious faculty of dance professionals trains over 3,500 students annually in our full-time Professional Division and Junior Division Programs for aspiring dance students, and Ailey Extension classes for the general public.

Under the direction of Troy Powell, the School's junior company in residence, Ailey II, serves as a bridge between the School and the professional dance world.

In November 2004, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, and The Ailey School moved to their permanent home, the Joan Weill Center for Dance, located in the heart of Manhattan's Theater District.  The 77,000sq ft structure houses 12 climate-controlled studios, equipped with sprung floors, pianos, sound systems, and state of the art acoustics.  It also is home to the 275-seat Ailey Citigroup Theater, physical therapy facilities, the Ailey Boutique, the library, student and faculty lounges, and administrative offices for the entire Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation.


To make dance accessible to young people and adults through dance training and innovative community outreach and arts-in-education programs.


  • To train outstanding students as professional dancers by offering a diverse dance training curriculum of the highest caliber
  • To maintain a professional faculty of exceptional teachers, musicians, and guest artists
  • To provide students with tuition assistance, federal financial aid, physical therapy and a range of student services including artistic advisement, housing assistance and professional counseling for nutrition and psychological well-being
  • To offer a wide range of dance classes for the dance enthusiast