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A Swan Song for Famed Alvin Ailey Dancer

Stacy M. Brown | 2/13/2013, 10:51 a.m.

"There wasn't much to enjoy at that time, just work," Robinson said. "It was a lot of hard work and lots of discipline, which is required in dance."

Robinson said while her parents and instructors were tough, most dancers realize that they have to be even harder on themselves. "If you don't get everything right, you can't do the job," she said.

"There were times when I wanted to quit during dance school, but when that would happen, I'd come out of class, see my mother and she'd tell me that I couldn't quit just because something didn't go right," Robinson said. "I wasn't allowed to give up when I had a hard time," she said.

A graduate of New York University, Robinson has been the central dancer in Ailey's "Revelations," the company's signature choreographic work based on Ailey's memories of church and life in the Deep South. "I was very excited when I was chosen for 'Revelations,'" Robinson said. "I was nervous, yes, but I knew the role was important to Ailey."

Robinson, who declined to give her age, has performed for a number of presidents and first ladies, including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

In recognition of her artistry, Dance Magazine recently presented Robinson with the prestigious 2012 Dance Magazine Award while highlighting her performances in the magazine's "Best of 2012" list.

"The recognition and performing in front of presidents, it's always special. That's one of the things that makes coming home to D.C., and the Kennedy Center special," Robinson said.

In addition to writing children's books, Robinson said her post-Ailey plans also include improving her French and Spanish. She said she plans to revisit places around the world where the company has toured.

"I'm focused on my farewell shows and making sure that I give the best performance and to continue to carrying on Ailey's legacy," she said. "After that, I'll be here at home and I'll be open to the universe and whatever that may bring."