Happy Birthday Alvin Ailey! -- January 5, 1931


By Alexander Haimann, Collections Specialist

Today the Smithsonian National Postal Museum is celebrating professional dance choreographer Alvin Ailey’s 79th birthday!

Alvin Ailey stamp, 2004
© United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

Throughout his career, beginning at the Lester Horton Dance Theater in 1953 to the time of his death in 1989, Alvin Ailey profoundly impacted American dance. Primarily through his own dance company, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Ailey developed new and innovative movements and productions by bringing together blues and gospel rhythms with a plethora of dance styles including ballet and modern dance. The portrait of Ailey featured on the 2004 U.S. postage stamp honoring him was taken a year before his death. The six dancers, also shown on the stamp, were performing a section from Ailey’s internationally acclaimed show Revelations in 2000 -- forty-years after Ailey first choreographed it.


Alex Haimann

About the Author
Alexander T. Haimann, Collections Specialist & Web Projects Developer at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, collects and writes primarily about the stamps and postal history of the U.S. during the first one hundred years of stamp production (1847-1947). Additionally, he develops internet based education projects and exhibits for the National Postal Museum. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Stamp Dealers Association, the Chair of the American Philatelic Society’s Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship and the publicist for the United State Philatelic Classics Society. His national and international society memberships include the American Philatelic Society, United States Stamp Society, Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society London.