Tufts University

Denise Jefferson

Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow awarded Denise Jefferson an honorary degree during the University's 151st Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 20, 2007.

[ Biography | Honorary Degree ]

Commencement 2007

Denise Jefferson, acclaimed dancer and devoted educator, you spin passion, poise and determination into dreams realized. As the long time director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, you nurture the aspiration and talent of the world's finest dancers in training. Your commitment to make dance accessible to all who show promise brings opportunity and visibility to artists who otherwise might never shine. An accomplished performer in your own right, your path to success began with the study of ballet as a child in Chicago, and found new direction during your undergraduate years. While a student at neighboring Wheaton College, you discovered the Martha Graham Company remarkable at the time for both its exquisite artistry and its racial diversity. As a scholarship student at the Company, you developed a vision of dance education that knows no demographic boundaries. With the Pearl Lang Dance Company, you gave breathtaking performances, exhibiting power and grace, reaching into the hearts of your audience. Using a universal language rooted in elegance of movement, you, Denise Jefferson, remind us to pause and absorb the beauty in all humanity. For excellence in dance, for your leadership and enduring contributions to education and the arts, it is an honor to present to you today the degree Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

Photo by Zara Tzanev for Tufts University Photo

This story originally ran on May 20, 2007.