RIP: Calvin Hunt and E.J. Corrigan of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Two revered members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s production staff die during a West Coast tour

Calvin Hunt (right) of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with Masazumi Chaya and Oprah Winfrey at Ailey’s 50th Anniversary Gala

Calvin Hunt (right) of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with Masazumi Chaya and Oprah Winfrey at Ailey’s 50th Anniversary Gala Photograph: Colin Williams

It is with profound sadness that we report the deaths of two integral members of the production team at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. On Sunday afternoon, Calvin Hunt, Ailey’s beloved senior director of performance and production, passed out while on tour with the company in California. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate him; the cause of death is believed to be a heart attack. He was 59. It gets even more harrowing: On the previous Sunday, E.J. (Edward James) Corrigan, the company’s technical director and Hunt’s good friend, died suddenly of what an autopsy revealed to be a rare brain aneurysm. He was 54.

Hunt, a track-and-field star in high school, discovered ballet while recovering from knee surgery. In a 2011 interview in The Olympian, he said, “I had been an athlete my whole life, and this was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It turned into this passion.” He graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts and moved to New York to pursue dancing, but eventually switched his focus to backstage. Hunt began his career as the stage manager for the Dance Theatre of Harlem; at Alvin Ailey’s invitation, he joined the Ailey company’s production staff where—over the next three decades—he became a crucial part of the troupe, working closely with Judith Jamison, Ailey’s former artistic director, and Robert Battle, currently at the helm.

Hunt dealt with presenters and choreographers, and oversaw arrangements for the dancers and crew. He brought many into the company, including Corrigan, who was hired in 1988. Dance companies, even ones as big as Ailey, are like families: The reason you like what you see onstage has much to do with what happens behind the curtain. Jamison, through a company spokesperson, said, “The Ailey company has lost a great champion.” The company is planning memorial celebrations this spring.

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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