Dance Icon Judith Jamison to Receive M. Carey Thomas Award and Give 2011 Commencement Address

Posted March 31st, 2011 at 4:37 pm.

judith-jamison_photo-by-andrew-eccles-2010_690x389Dance icon Judith Jamison, choreographer and artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will give the Commencement address to Bryn Mawr College’s graduating class on Saturday, May 14, at 2 p.m. on Merion Green.

As a dancer with the Alvin Ailey troupe, from 1965 to 1980, Jamison joined the ranks of the most stellar of modern dance’s female performers, perhaps best known for her tour-de-force solo “Cry.” In 2009 Time Magazine put Jamison on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Her numerous awards include Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. She was recently feted  at a White House ceremony celebrating dance and ballet hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama (fast forward to the 3:50 mark in the video below).

During the commencement ceremony Jamison will receive Bryn Mawr’s highest honor, the M. Carey Thomas Award, given only 18 times since 1922. Past recipients of the award, which is named after Bryn Mawr’s long-serving second president and given to American women for eminent achievement, have included Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Georgia O’Keefe, and Bryn Mawr alumna Katharine Hepburn.

“Judith is a national treasure,” says Bryn Mawr President Jane McAuliffe. “Like many of the former M. Carey Thomas Award winners, her art transcends the boundaries of its medium and has become a part of the fabric of American culture.”

Commencement weekend will also feature a private performance by the Ailey II dance company for graduating students and their families.

For more information on the weekend’s activities, visit the Bryn Mawr College Commencement Web site.

About Judith Jamison (from

Judith Jamison was appointed Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in December 1989 at the request of her mentor, Alvin Ailey, who personally chose her to succeed him before his untimely death.  A native of Philadelphia, she studied with Marion Cuyjet, was discovered by Agnes de Mille and made her New York debut with American Ballet Theatre in 1964.  She became a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and danced with the Company for 15 years to great acclaim.  Recognizing her extraordinary talent, Mr. Ailey created some of his most enduring roles for her, most notably the tour-de-force solo, Cry.

After leaving the Company in 1980, Ms. Jamison appeared as a guest artist with ballet companies all over the world and starred in the hit Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies. In 1988, she formed her own company, The Jamison Project; a PBS special depicting her creative process, Judith Jamison: The Dancemaker, aired nationally the same year.

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