18 October 2013
A Never Ending Movement
“If you live in the elite world of dance, you find yourself in a world rife with racism. Let's face it.” –Alvin Ailey. Alvin Ailey was an African American dancer and choreographer, born in 1931 in Rogers, Texas. Ailey was responsible for creating one of the most popular dance companies of the twentieth century, known as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. The forming of this company began due to Ailey’s life long passion for dance, and his dream to give African American dancers the opportunity to display their talents and express their experiences and heritage (Bodensteiner). Ailey’s goal and achievement was to make black bodies visible, if not dominant, in the discourse of modernist American dance (DeFrantz, 21). His choreographic style and inspiration came from his childhood memories of growing up in segregated, Depression-era Texas, as well as his attentiveness to human movement (DeFrantz, 4). “To understand Ailey’s achievement, we must look to the world he inherited and the degrees to which he transformed that world through his work” (DeFrantz, 5). Alvin Ailey used dance as a form of expression in order to represent African American culture, and to illustrate a successful, Black Arts institution fighting for Civil Rights and slavery abolishment against a racially segregated society. Revelations was one of Alvin Ailey’s most famous performances with his new company in the 1960s. The piece was told in a suite of spirituals with three sections, “Pilgrims of Sorrow,” “Take Me to the Water” and “Move, Members, Move.” Ailey uses choreography, phrase structuring, specific characters, and music in order to create a multifaceted representation of African American experience and culture (DeFrantz, 7). The piece includes African American music that will “show the coming and growth and reach of black culture” (DeFrantz, 27). As DeFrantz states, Revelations mapped rural southern spirituality onto the concert dance stage...
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