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In 1954 he and his friend Carmen De Lavallade were invited to New York to dance in the Broadway show House of Flowers by Truman Capote starring Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll. While he wanted to give opportunities to black dancers who were frequently excluded from performances by racist attitudes at the time he also wanted to rise above issues of negritude. Hidden Rites Alvin Ailey City Center Dance Theater New York City Center 1973.
He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988 just one year before his death. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance.