New York City
Alvin Ailey was twenty four years old when these pictures were taken. At the time he was performing in the Broadway musical House of Flowers (by Harold Arlen & Truman Capote, directed by Peter Brook) alongside Diahann Carroll, Pearl Bailey, Juanita Hall, Carmen de Lavallade, Geoffrey Holder and Arthur Mitchell, all of whom were also photographed by Van Vechten at the time. Ailey of course went on to found the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in 1958 and Arthur Mitchell founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem ten years later. Geoffrey Holder choreographed works for both of those companies. It was Holder’s wife, Carmen de Lavallade, who introduced Ailey (her close friend from High School until the end of his life) to dance training with Lester Horton and it was with Carmen that Alvin first came to New York to appear in House of Flowers.