Revelations Alvin Ailey Analysis

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Revelations by Alvin Ailey invites the audience on a journey of grief, reverence and celebration. Inspired by Ailey’s memories from his childhood, Alvin Ailey was born in 1931 to a large extended family, in a small town in Texas (Study Guide: Alvin Ailey, 2008). Upon his parent’s separation and financial difficulties he moved to LA with his mother, where he became introduced to dance and eventually became one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century (Study Guide: Alvin Ailey, 2008). This article will focus on how Ailey’s life experiences are reflected in his choice of movement and non-movement components; highlighting his upbringing, choreographic relations, and his experience with the African American Baptist church.

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The props of the blue material used in Section 2, reflect the ‘lake’ or water that is used during a baptism, reflecting the procession that Ailey saw when he was younger (Study Guide: Alvin Ailey, 2008) as well as his own baptism, outside in a lake (Traditions in American Concert Dance: Gender and Autobiography, 2015). The use of a white cloth as it is lifted over 3 dancers, symbolizes the water ‘cleansing’ them and being covered by the water. The cloth is then removed to reveal the 3 dancers standing amongst 2 pieces of blue cloth, representing how they are now reborn and renewed. This reflects Ailey’s own baptism and childhood memories, growing up in the Baptist church (Study Guide: Alvin Ailey, 2008). In Section 3, the use of the increasing tempo of the song, “Rocka’ My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham”, was a clear depiction of the joyfulness and pleasure that was experienced by the congregation in response to worship, within the African American Baptist church that Ailey attended (, 1999). The increase in the tempo could also be inferred to represent members of the congregation becoming filled with the Holy Spirit, with the accompanying movements of turns and kicks showing their uncontrollable joyfulness and their inability to control their own movements (, 1999). Ailey would have been exposed to many of these displays of pure jubilation, growing up within a Baptist church during his childhood (, 1999). Therefore, Ailey’s experience with the African American Baptist churches is reflected through the music and props in
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