Winning Essay by Amber P., University of Miami

As a young black woman in today’s society, I constantly feel empowered, but I cannot help but to feel inferior at times as well. We possess the charisma, beauty, and the strength that everyone aims to have, yet no one can copy. We are simply unique. I was not always aware of this magic that we possess until I was ten years old. My mother took me to Atlanta’s Fox Theater where I saw Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Company for the first time. THIS is where my passion for dance was ignited and I am so thankful for him and that experience.

Alvin Ailey said, “Dance is for everybody. I believe that dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.” Nothing inspires me more than the art of dance and the way people can express themselves and become who they are through movement. Alvin Ailey is the person who inspires me because he taught me such a valuable lesson at an early age. Because of his love for the art and his drive, I was able to see exactly what I wanted for myself. At the early age of ten years old, I knew I wanted to inspire others the way he inspired me and for that, I am forever thankful!

Alvin Ailey was an African American man that, like many, came from humble beginnings. His mother was only a teenager when he was born and had difficulty finding work. In addition to that, racial segregation and violence against African Americans were extremely prominent. However, he did not let his background hinder him from studying dance under the great Lester Horton. Ailey trained day and night to become the exceptional artist he only dreamt of being. As a black man who, at first, felt out of place around his white peers, he became so secure in his skin and his identity that he went on to own a dance company, and was recognized for prestigious honors such as the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988 and in 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ailey to be a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He continues to inspire thousands of women, men, and children around the world. I am forever grateful for him and his presence he continues to bring through his company’s performances. Because of Alvin Ailey, I can walk tall in my own skin and shine as bright as the sun. Because of Alvin Ailey, I discovered my love for dance and now I aim to own my own dance company that performs and travel internationally. Because of Alvin Ailey, I know how truly great I can be and that is something I will always cherish and appreciate! THANK YOU Mr. Alvin Ailey for inspiring me to reach my fullest potential and because of you I will use my gift and passion of dance to inspire others the way you have inspired me!


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