Remembering Ulysses Dove

Today, December 1, 2021 marks the 33rd World AIDS Day. The purpose of the day is to bring attention to the HIV epidemic, end the stigma around HIV/AIDS, and call for an increased response to ending the HIV epidemic in the US.

This year’s theme is Ending the AIDS Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice. We’ve compiled some episodes of PNB is Listening about a choreographer close to PNB’s heart, Ulysses Dove, who passed away from HIV/AIDS.


Ulysses Dove

Ulysses Dove was an independent choreographer who worked in both the modern dance and ballet idioms. After attending a Martha Graham performance in 1967, Dove gave up his pre-med studies at Howard University to dance professionally with Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, and Anna Sokolow. His first choreography, I See the Moon…and the Moon Sees Me (1979), was commissioned by Ailey. Although he never maintained a company of his own, Dove worked closely with Jeraldyne Blunden’s Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and created works for American Ballet Theatre, Ballet France de Nancy, the Basel Ballet, Cullberg Ballet of Sweden, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, New York City Ballet, and the Swedish National Ballet, for which he created the transcendent Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (1993). In 1980, he became the assistant director of the experimental Choreographic Research Group of the Paris Opera. Ulysses Dove died in 1996.

Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, and Peter Boal remember Ulysses Dove, one of the most innovative contemporary choreographers of the past half-century, in this episode of PNB is Listening.
A panel discussion about Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels between PNB’s 2020 cast members (Cecilia Iliesiu, Amanda Morgan, Lucien Postlewaite, William Lin-Yee), Artistic Director Peter Boal, and PNB’s Concertmaster Michael Jinsoo Lim.

More resources:

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France

A definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, here is the incredible story of the grassroots activists whose work turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Almost universally ignored, these men and women learned to become their own researchers, lobbyists, and drug smugglers, established their own newspapers and research journals, and went on to force reform in the nation’s disease-fighting agencies. From the creator of, and inspired by, the seminal documentary of the same name, How to Survive a Plague is an unparalleled insider’s account of a pivotal moment in the history of American civil rights.

Learn more about the history of the ongoing AIDS epidemic in the BBC’s four-part audio documentary series, The Story of AIDS.


Featured photo: Dylan Wald and Amanda Morgan in Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, photo © Angela Sterling.

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