Dudley Williams (Courtesy Photo of The Ailey School)
Accomplished and talented dancer, Dudley Williams, of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, was found dead in his apartment in Manhattan on Sunday. He had been a member of the highly acclaimed dance company for over four decades. Medical examiners say that his death is not considered suspicious.
Williams was born and raised in New York City, where his interests in dancing started after observing classes at a local arts school while waiting for an uncle who was studying voice. At the age of 12, he began taking lessons at Sheldon Hoskins in Harlem and later attended New York’s High School for the Performing Arts.
He graduate in 1958 and would win a dance award and received a scholarship to the Juilliard School. While attending Juilliard for several years, Williams would take time off to dance with various companies, including those of May McDonnell, Donald McKayle, and Talley Beatty. In 1961, he joined the Martha Graham Company and began appearing with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In 1964, Williams left Martha Graham and became a member of Alvin Ailey.
Dudley Williams performing “I Want to Be Ready” in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. (Web Photo)
He’s dancing career would include leading performances in numerous productions including: Donald McKayle’s “Rainbow Round My Shoulder” (1959), Ailey’s “Reflections in D” (1962), Lucas Hoving’s “Icarus” (revived 1968), 16-minute solo “Love Songs” (1972), and Louis Falco’s “Caravan” (1976), which made Williams a central member of the company and many other performances.
In 1984, Williams celebrated his 20th anniversary with Ailey in a gala performance at the City Center in New York City. In the early 1990s he remained a performing member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as well as a company teacher.
Dudley Williams was 76.