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Sylvia Waters
Born: January 22, 1940
Occupation: dancer, artistic director
Born and raised in New York City, Waters began modern dance study in junior high school, continued formal training at the New Dance Group of New York City, and in 1962 graduated from the dance department of the prestigious Juilliard School. In the early 1960s Waters performed with Donald McKayle's dance company, and received a scholarship to study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. In 1964 she embarked on a seven-month European tour dancing in Langston Hughes' musical "Black Nativity." She settled in Paris for three years, where she worked on television and with Michel Descombey of the Paris Opera Ballet. Living in Europe made her "homesick for modern dance," and after dancing at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City with Maurice Béjart's "Ballet of the Twentieth Century," Waters returned to the United States. She joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1968 and remained a company member until 1975, at which time she took over directorship of the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. Under Waters' direction, the ensemble, a junior performance group created to provide an introduction to dance through lecture demonstrations and master classes, garnered significant recognition from the dance press and the public by performing the works of experimental choreographers Donald Byrd, Ulysses Dove, Ralph Lemon, Bebe Miller, Kevin Wynn, and classic works by Ailey.

-- Thomas F. DeFrantz

Johnson, Robert. "Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble Carries on Without Ailey." DANCE MAGAZINE (February 1990): 20.

Source Citation: "Sylvia Waters." ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY. 5 vols. Macmillan, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Gale Group.