Dudley Williams: The Consummate Artist

By Walter Rutledge


In 2004 I had the first opportunity to work with Dudley Williams. It was shortly before he retired from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater after his 40-year association with the company, which included being a muse to founder Alvin Ailey. Now ten years later I have worked with him every time an opportunity presented itself.  This spring season I have the distinct honor to work with Dudley on two different projects.


On Monday, May 19th Dudley Williams will perform at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts Gala. He was a graduate of the original High School of  Performing Arts (class of 1958), and this is the first time he has returned to perform as an alumnus. He makes the process easy by providing the artistic shading and nuance that his years of experience with both Ailey and Martha Graham have given him.


The work entitled 26 Names is a tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and is set to a haunting original composition by theatrical composer and Tony award winner Jason Robert Brown. The cast includes Bruce Heath (High School for the Performing Arts class of 1972) Khalia Campbell (LaGuardia High School class of 2011) and Morghan J. Pastrana (LaGuardia class of  2015). Composer Brown will perform the work live at the Gala.


During rehearsals Dudley graciously follows directions and patiently tolerates my stories. I am blessed to call him a colleague, a friend and a fellow connoisseur of the dry martini.

Photography by Adewale Adekanbi

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One Comment

  1. Walter,

    Thank you for this Valentine.

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