Chief Artistic Officer, KC Friends of Alvin Ailey
Established in 1984, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey is the official second home of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, based in New York City. Tyrone Aiken is KCFAA’s Executive Director, a role he has played since 2005. He began as an instructor during the company’s AileyCamp in 1991, and graduated to artistic coordinator in 1995. In 2003, Aiken received the Coming Up Taller Award from First Lady Laura Bush on behalf of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. During Tyrone’s time as executive director, KCFAA has received a variety of grants and awards, including the company’s largest grant ever received, a $250,000 Kauffman Legacy Grant in 2008.
What is it about KC that inspires creativity in you?
Our location is very interesting. St. Louis is oriented toward Chicago or the East, and Denver is oriented toward the West. Dallas is considered more south. Kansas City is sort of a bridge, and makes us yearn to have a variety of styles meet here. Lots of different things converge here and makes for an interesting palette.
What is your favorite spot in Kansas City?
I love a place called The Drop. It’s relaxed and has food that I love. It’s in an interesting and accessible location.
When and where are you happiest?
In the dance studio. In the studio it is part church, part classroom – a place of peace and discovery. [It’s] an incredibly important place for me.
What's your most treasured possession?
I have a photo of my mom who has passed that is very important to me. I have a ring that I wear that is very important, as well, and whenever I put it down and don’t know where it is I immediately think, “Where’s my ring?”
Who do you most admire in real-life?
I love journalism. A person who inspires me in terms of their life’s work is Bill Moyers. Has a point of view and perspective and is always talking about the important issues.