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CNN 20: Alvin Ailey Dies, December 1, 1989

Aired December 1, 2000 - 6:13 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CYNTHIA TORNQUIST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alvin Ailey died in 1989. He died of AIDS. He was only 58 years old.

In 1958, Alvin Ailey established his own company. It was called the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It was one of the leading international modern dance troops at that time.

ALVIN AILEY, FOUNDER, ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER: We've been through the days now where we were looking for the total dancer, the dancer who can do ballet and modern and jazz. So a lot has happened now.

TORNQUIST: Alvin Ailey's choreography really blended modern dance with jazz and had an Afro-Caribbean feel to it. He also was very influenced by the dance of Lester Horton and Catherine Dunham.

Two of Alvin Ailey's most important dance numbers that he created were called "Revelations" and "Blues Suite," and basically they were inspired from the small Texas town where he grew up and the gospel and blues music that surrounded him.

In 1988, Alvin Ailey got the Kennedy Center Honors from President Reagan, and basically it was to honor him for his contribution to dance.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed for about 19 million people around the world, and because of that, it promoted American culture and especially modern dance and the black cultural experience.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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