You Can Now View More Than 10,000 Photos From Jack Mitchell's Alvin Ailey Collection Online

December 5, 2019

From 1961 to 1994, legendary photographer Jack Mitchell captured thousands of moments with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Now, this treasure trove of dance history is available to the public for viewing via the online archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The collection includes both color and black-and-white images of Ailey’s repertoire, as well as private photo sessions with company members and Ailey himself. Altogether, the archive tracks the career development of many beloved Ailey dancers, including Masazumi Chaya, Judith Jamison, Sylvia Waters, Donna Wood and Dudley Williams—and even a young Desmond Richardson. And there’s no shortage of photos of iconic pieces like Blues Suite (Ailey’s first piece of choreography), Cry and Revelations.

We couldn’t resist sharing a few of our favorites below. Search the collection for more gems here.

Alvin Ailey in Hermit Songs, 1961

Photography by Jack Mitchell, © Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. and Smithsonian Institution, All rights reserved.

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A black-and-white image of Alvin Ailey onstage. He is wearing a loose robe and is in a low arabesque in pliu00e9 with his arms extended sideways

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A black-and-white image of Alvin Ailey and Carmen DeLavallade in costume, zoomed in showing their torsos and faces. Ailey poses under a ladder.

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A color photo in a dance studio. Alvin Ailey sits on a stool downstage, while three dancers pose on different levels against the wall and barre in the background.

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A black-and-white image of Alvin Ailey looking at the camera. he is wearing jeans and a tank top.

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A black-and-white image of Judith Jamison doing a du00e9veloppu00e9 on a photo backdrop with arms reaching north and south with energy. She is wearing a long, white dress.

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A black-and-white headshot of Masazumi Chaya. He is an Asian man and is wearing a suit jacket and polka dot dress shirt.

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A group of dancers posing in purple and pink flashy, jazzy costumes

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A black-and-white image of a tall, black man doing a split leap

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A male dancer faces backwards with knees and arms bent. His silhouette is seen against an orange background.

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A black-and-white image of Judith Jamison seated on a chair turned backwards while dancers in costume for Revelations stand closely together with their arms raised

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