Alvin Ailey dancer
Larry Busacca/
At a time when racism kept African-American talent out of major dance troupes, the trailblazing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, founded in 1958, not only broke the color barrier but brought modern dance to a mass audience. The company (including Clifton Brown, left) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with an international tour, two books, and a bevy of commemorative items (greeting cards, a Movado watch, even a Barbie). For more information, go to