Judith Jamison is a dancer and choreographer who was born and raised in Philadelphia. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors, an Emmy Award and National Medal of Arts. Jamison studied classical ballet and modern dance as a child and went on to further her dance education at The Philadelphia Dance Academy (now part of University of the Arts).
Around the age of 21, Jamison was invited to perform at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City. When that show ended its run, Alvin Ailey offered her a spot in the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater - and her first performance there was in 1965. From there, Jamison toured Europe and Africa with the group. Jamison joined Harkness Ballet when Alvin Ailey Dance Theater was on temporary hiatus, and returned to Alvin Ailey for thirteen more years and over 70 ballets. In 1980, Jamison left Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and joined the Broadway musical, Sophisticated Ladies.
Jamison began choreographing and teaching dance after Broadway, including at Jacob's Pillow, her own group called The Jamison Project, and later at Alvin Ailey Theater. She is known for many works including Divining (1984), Forgotten Time (1989), Sweet Release (1996), Double Exposure (2000) HERE...NOW (2002), LoveStories (2004), Reminiscin' (2005), and Among Us (2009). .
Alvin Ailey asked her to return to the company in 1989 to succeed him, and Jamison became artistic director of the company and choreographed many dances. Jamison passed along the torch to Robbert Battle in 2011. Former First Lady Michelle Obama honored Judith Jamison at The White House. In 2013, Judith Jamison was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance.