She has reached out to strongly individual figures such as Garth Fagan, Donald Byrd and Alonzo King, and brought in works by Twyla Tharp and Lar Lubovitch. She has at times focused on female choreographers, and also opened the doors to some whose gimmicky work disappeared after a season. She has certainly broadened the dancers' experience, but only rarely has a choreographer established an ongoing connection with the company and truly enriched its repertory.
Brown, whose fluid movement incorporates many elements of traditional African dance, has done that, making four works for the company starting with "Grace" in 1999. "Dancing Spirit," his most authoritative and refined to date, alludes to the company's history and personalities, and received considerable critical acclaim at its December premiere. "Ronald K. Brown is a must," Jamison asserts. "The work that he does is so important, because there is a freedom about a technique that says something about being American, being African American, having a root of Africa, and also being open, very accessible and spiritual."
The company has never had a resident choreographer, although Jamison mentions that Ailey once envisioned Ulysses Dove -- a company member whose works have found an ongoing place in its repertory -- in that role. But both died prematurely, and it never happened. "I never thought that I should find a resident choreographer. Maybe the next artistic director will think that."