Springtime in Boston means magnolias in bloom, the Sox at bat, and the ballooning of the small but fervent local dance audience. About 12,000 people flock to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during its annual visit, which this year begins Thursday and continues through May 19 at the Citi Wang Theatre.
The spike in terpsichorean interest proves just how high, in the canon of legendary American modern dance pioneers, the name Alvin Ailey perches. This has nothing to do with alphabetical order, but it does have quite a lot to do with the blueprint he designed for the company that bears his name. Ailey’s vision — a company that could perform not only his dances, but also the masterworks of others — was, at the time of its founding in the late 1950s, a fairly radical idea.