Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre - "Revelations"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents four videos of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre's classic dance "Revelations".

This post also information about choreographer/dancer/company founder Alvin Ailey & dancer, artistic director, and choreographer Judith Jamison. In addition, my transcription of a Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison interview that is found in the documentary given as "Video #1" is also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 - December 1, 1989) was an African American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, NY. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance. His company gained the nickname "Cultural Ambassador to the World" because of its extensive international touring. Ailey's choreographic masterpiece Revelations is believed to be the best known and most often seen modern dance performance. In 1977, Ailey was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.[1] He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988, just one year before his death."
"Judith Ann Jamison (born May 10, 1943, Philadelphia), Pennsylvania is an American dancer and choreographer, best known as the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater."


Video #1: Celebrating Revelations at 50


NJPACtv, Uploaded on Feb 21, 2011

This year, Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" turns 50. Here's a short documentary about this modern dance classic and the inspiration behind the work.
Alvin Ailey - I’m Alvin Ailey. I’m a choreographer. I’m a Black man whose roots are in the sun and in the dirt of the South.
I was born in Texas and stayed there until I was twelve. And the first dances I ever made were what I’d like to call “Black memories”.

My roots are also in the Gospel churches of the South where I grew up. Holy grooves, [?] to joy, anthems to the Holy Spirit.

Well I think that my best works are personal. The ones that endure seem to be the ones that come out of my gut. The hardest ones that reveal some part of self.

I’m a Black person who formed the company when the country was intensely racist.

[Film clip of Martin Luther King, Jr] – “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. We will not be satisfied.”

Alvin Ailey- I‘m trying to say something about the beauty of Black people, about the eloquence, about their ability to be entertaining, about their intelligence.

We’re really celebrating human beings. And we’re trying to make an identification with the Black past.

Judith Jamison – If we were dancing, and you were African American, my God, did you have a lot to say, because you’re , you’re story wasn’t being told. He [Alvin Ailey] knew what that story was about, and he was unafraid to reveal it.

Alvin Ailey – “Revelations” is a title from the Bible. And it’s, it’s a suite of Spirituals, in, in three sections. The first section is called “Pilgrim Of Sorrow”.

Judith Jamison – It has to do with the burden of life, and its heaviness. You’ve been weighted down by the world, and inspiring to touch something you cannot touch, but you can only feel. And therefore the reaching to the sky with hands spread wide, reaching to something that you cannot touch, but you know in your heart that you’re going to get there. But you have to be cleansed first. You have to be absolved.

Alvin Ailey – The second section is called “Take Me To The Water” which is based on a baptismal, ah, a personal experience. When I was a, a kid in Texas, one was baptized outside the church by a lake all dressed in white. Well that’s a very intense memory and it was theatricalized for “Wadomg In The Water”.

Judith Jamison – Alvin was an extraordinary dancer. He rippled through “Wading In The Water”. Alvin looked panther like, mercurial. There are no words...

Alvin Ailey – And the last section is called “Move Members, Move”, a Sunday morning with fans, and hats in a country church.

Judith Jamison – He understood about women. Some would chug down the aisle because they had that Spirit going through them. They weren’t just doing a dance.. They actually felt something, you know. And it was their great faith and their, their great belief. We are joyous in that we see hope from despair. Always, it is never ending hope. To understand what that spirit was about, and to, to remember it. As a child,those impressions are indelible in you.

Alvin Ailey – All of this is a part of my blunt memory.

Judith Jamison – The first performance of “Revelations” was done in 1960 at the YWHA in New York City. It’s been performed in 71 countries on 6 continents.

“Revelations”, I think forever will continue to take dance into places that they didn’t think they could journey to, and take audiences with them. It embraces you no matter what religion you are, race, color, creed, anything. You sit and you watch that ballet, and then you know what it’s like to be human.

[Transcription by Azizi Powell from the video. The question mark in brackets indicates that I'm not sure what was said. The italic font represents words that are emphasized. Additions and corrections are welcome.]

Video #2: [added Nov. 12, 2015. The previously embedded video is no longer available.]

Revelations por Company & Company

Canal de danzacompany1,Uploaded on Nov 22, 2011

Taller coreográfico: Revelations. Coreografía Alvin Ailey. Repetidora: Prof. Anna Arboix . Talleres de fin de Curso 2010/2011 de los alumnos del Curso de Formación de la escuela "Company & Company" de Barcelona. Teatro SAT. Mas info:

Video #3: Alvin Ailey Dance-Wade in the Water from Revelations

HighDephProductions, Published on Sep 2, 2012

Video #4: Fix Me Jesus - Revelations by Alvin Ailey

Genesis2kx, Uploaded on Mar 25, 2008

This is the Fix me Jesus dance by the Alvin Ailey Dance Ensemble for all the people in my IDS class

Thanks to Alvin Ailey for his dance legacy. Thanks also to Judith Jamison and all the other dancers in the featured videos. My thanks also to those who uploaded these featured videos on YouTube.

Also, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome

No comments:

Post a Comment