Written by | Ray Cornelius

Atlanta’s own National Center for Civil and Human Rights hosted an intimate conversation recently with dance icon and former artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre – Ms. Judith Jamison. The event was held in the main ballroom of the center and was moderated by CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield.

The conversation was in preparation for Ailey’s 60th Anniversary Tour which makes its stop at Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre February 21-24. During the discussion, Ms. Jamison reminisced about meeting Mr. Ailey for the first time, the preparation for her iconic solo performance Cry and becoming the company’s fearless leader after Mr. Ailey passed away in 1989.

In addition to Ms. Jamison’s conversation, rising Ailey star Christopher R. Wilson conducted an afternoon workshop for youth performers. Wilson, who is from Augusta and was inspired to become a dancer after seeing Ailey at the Fox, will make his Atlanta debut there next month. I got a chance to chat with him for this weekend’s edition of UPFRONT where he talked about the moment he became a member of the company and his desire to pass along the rich cultural legacy of Mr. Ailey.

I also got a chance to sit down with Ms. Jamison for an upcoming Ailey 60 Special I’ll be producing for CAU-TV23’s Black History Month programming. It will also feature a segment with the Center’s Interim CEO Brian Tolleson, who discussed Mr. Ailey as a human rights activist and LGBTQ advocate.

Special invited guests to the conversation included Greenleaf actress Merle Dandridge, Beyond Her’s Brandi Harvey, former Ailey dancer Anthony Burrell, former Michael Jackson dancer and famed choreographer Travis Payne and dance sensation Juel D. Lane.

Check out more photos below:

Photo Credits: Ray Cornelius.com

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