New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
See more about this collection in the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive (SOVA) here: https://sova.si.edu/record/NMAAHC.A2013.245 or contact NMAAHC Archives at email@example.com.
Jack Mitchell (1925- 2013) was an acclaimed photographer who began chronicling the work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1961. Alvin Ailey (1931- 1989), one of the most influential African American choreographers of modern dance, dedicated himself and his dance company to creating ballets that not only accelerated the careers of young African American dancers, but also stole the attention of national and international audiences in displaying the racial perspective of dance in the African American experience. This collection serves as Mitchell's documentation of the dance company's evolution while capturing the true idiosyncrasies and physicality of movement through still images. Through Alvin Ailey and Jack Mitchell's partnership, they were able to collaborate and produce a unique production of art, fusing the meaning and movements of dance and the techniques of photography.
The Jack Mitchell Photography of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Collection is comprised of approximately 10,000 black and white prints of solo and ensemble acts, portraits of principle dancers and various associates of the company, color slides and transparencies for private photo sessions and performances, black and white film strips and their corresponding contact sheets, and reference materials.
The material in this collection has been kept primarily at the folder level in the order that was declared by the initial owner and photographer, Jack Mitchell. Oversize prints were separated and housed in an associated series in the collection. The order of the material has been organized based on the medium of the material. Each subseries has been organized based on the following:
Series I: Black and White Prints
Subseries A: Solo and Ensemble Images and Portraits were organized alphabetically by ballet name. Subseries B: Prints for Jack Mitchell Publication were organized by page number in the publication.
Series II: Color Photography
Subseries A: Original Slide Boxes were organized numerically based on Jack Mitchell's label assignments. Subseries B: Color Slides were organized numerically based on subseries A's label assignments. Subseries C: Color Transparencies were organized numerically based on subseries A's label assignments.
Series III: Black and White Negatives
Subseries A: Black and White Film Strips were organized chronologically by date. Subseries B: Contact Sheets were organized chronologically by date.
Series IV: Reference Material
OVERSIZE Series I: Black and White Prints were organized chronologically by date.