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Rest In Poise: Alvin Ailey Dancer, Dudley Williams, Deceased At 76

Alvin Ailey featured dancer of more than 40 years, Dudley Williams, died over the weekend at his home in Manhattan. He was 76.

A spokesperson for the company told the New York Times “Mr. Williams was found dead in his apartment on Sunday. No cause was given, but the medical examiner’s office said the death was not considered suspicious.”

Dudley Eugene Williams was born in East Harlem to Iban Leroy Williams and Austa Beckles, on Aug. 18, 1938. His brother, Iban Jr., is his only immediate survivor.

At the age of 12 Dudley took his first dance classes at Sheldon B. Hoskins’s theater school, which he paid for by selling copies of The Amsterdam News.

As the budding dancer began to make his dream a reality a knee injury he suffered in the 1960s lead doctors to tell the dancer he would never walk again. Williams’ resilience defied the odds and was back onstage two weeks after.

It was in 1963 that Alvin Ailey himself recruited Williams as a last-minute replacement for an Ailey troupe member.

During that time Williams had several memorizing leading performances in Ailey’s “Reflections in D” , Louis Falco’s “Caravan” , which solidified Williams as central member of the company.

He became known for his virtuosity in performances such as Ailey’s 16-minute solo “Love Songs”, his comedic “backwoods huckster” role in Ailey’s “Blues Suite” and his riveting solo “I Want to Be Ready” in Ailey’s renowned “Revelations”.

Williams performed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater until 2005.

After that he danced with Paradigm, a trio of older dancers he formed with Carmen de Lavallade and Gus Solomons Jr., and taught at The Ailey School in Manhattan, until he died.

In 2013, at age 75, Williams, made a triumphant return to the stage for an Ailey company New Year’s Eve performance of “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,” the finale of the troupe’s classic “Revelations,” which was choreographed by Ailey.

In 2003 Williams described his passion for dance to the New York Times.

“It’s a hunger — doing it until you do it right,” he added. “It’s a nervousness that puts me on the stage, it’s palms sweating, feet sweating, wondering, ‘Am I going to hit this position?’ ”

Dudley Williams you will be missed but your passion and dedication to the art of dance will live in through the many people you have impacted.

Dudley Dances from Chris Thompson on Vimeo.

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