Photo by Eva F. Maze, courtesy of Ailey archives

Alvin Ailey founded what would become one of the world's most famous modern dance companies. From its earliest days, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed dances that reflected the African-American cultural experience to concert dance audiences. Ailey's iconic work Revelations continues to resonate nearly 60 years later. The company has performed for more than 25 million people on six continents

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Horton relaxing after rehearsal with Sondra Orans, left, and Joyce Trisler. Photo by Bob Willoughby, courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

One of the first choreographers to have a racially integrated dance company, Lester Horton (1906–1953) developed a series of movement exercises that have now been codified as the Horton technique. He also introduced modern dance to the West Coast: His Dance Theater in West Hollywood was the first modern dance venue for performance and teaching in Los Angeles.

The Indiana native's introduction to dance might have occurred with a Denishawn performance, a touring Wild West show with Native American dancing or Anna Pavlova's company, depending on what story he chose to tell. (Horton had a flair for the dramatic.) After briefly studying ballet, he teamed up with director Clara Bates to choreograph, star in and design the costumes for The Song of Hiawatha, which put him on the dance map while still a teenager. A short stint with Japanese dancer Michio Ito led to the formation of the first of Horton's several dance companies, the Dance Repertory Group.

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