Thursday, Apr. 30, 2009

Judith Jamison

For my 16th birthday I was given a present that remains one of my most vivid, dearest memories. My mother took me to see a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Detroit. Money was tight, so I'm sure that she made a sacrifice for those tickets — they were dead center, fourth or fifth row.

The lights dimmed, and my world changed. My eyes were locked on this tall chocolate sinewy woman, the embodiment of grace, soul and rhythm: Judith Jamison, my hero! And for 20 years as head of the Ailey troupe, Jamison, 64, has carried the legacy of Alvin Ailey to new heights.

Merkerson is an Emmy Award-winning actress starring in her 15th season of Law & Order