By Thomas F. DeFrantz
Within the early Sixties, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was once a small, multi-racial corporation of dancers that played the works of its founding choreographer and different rising artists. through the past due Sixties, the corporate had turn into a widely known African American inventive staff heavily tied to the Civil Rights fight. In Dancing Revelations, Thomas DeFrantz chronicles the troupe's trip from a small sleek dance corporation to 1 of the top-rated associations of African American tradition. He not just charts this upward push to nationwide and foreign renown, but additionally contextualizes this growth in the civil rights, women's rights, and homosexual rights struggles of the past due twentieth century. DeFrantz examines the main celebrated Ailey dances, together with Revelations, drawing on video recordings of Ailey's dances, released interviews, oral histories, and his personal interviews with former Ailey corporation dancers. via shiny descriptions and gorgeous illustrations, DeFrantz finds the connection among Ailey's works and African American tradition as a complete. He illuminates the twin success of Ailey as an artist and as an arts activist devoted to constructing an African American presence in dance. He additionally addresses matters approximately how dance functionality is documented, together with concerns round spectatorship and the demonstrate of sexuality, the connection of Ailey's dances to civil rights activism, and the institution and upkeep of a profitable, large-scale Black Arts establishment. all through Dancing Revelations, DeFrantz illustrates how Ailey mixed components of African dance with motifs tailored from blues, jazz, and Broadway to choreograph his dances. through re-interpreting those tropes of black tradition in his unique and well-received dances, DeFrantz argues that Ailey performed an important function in defining the African American cultural canon within the 20th century. because the first publication to check the cultural resources and cultural impression of Ailey's paintings, Dancing Revelations is a crucial contribution to trendy dance historical past and feedback in addition to African-American reviews.
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Extra info for Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture
They first lived in a mostly white school district, but Ailey protested to his mother, feeling “they did not know exactly what to do with me” as one of the only black students at the school. The Aileys moved so that he could attend the predominantly black George Washington Carver Junior High School and later, Thomas Jefferson High School. These schools, and the expanded cultural vistas of the entertainment districts of Central Avenue and downtown Los Angeles, offered Ailey vibrant models of African American performance in the integrationist mold prevalent during the Second World War.
Ailey conceived According to St. ” He cast Truitte as St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscans and prophet of joy and man’s harmony with nature. 02 10/20/03 2:51 PM Page 30 James Truitte, Don Martin, Alvin Ailey, and Roland Goldwater of the Lester Horton Dancers in Alvin Ailey’s According to St. Francis, 1954. ”16 In a conceptual gesture he followed throughout his career when choreographing for men, Ailey imagined the dance as a challenge to Truitte’s ability, a site in which to publicly contest the dancer’s mastery of dance technique.
The outlines of that existence would have been familiar to his African American contemporaries; like other integration-minded African Americans of his generation, Ailey typically stressed childhood experiences he assumed to be similar to those in the white mainstream. Until African American doctoral candidate Jacqueline Latham conducted biographical interviews with Ailey in 1971, the rough contours of his early life escaped note. Ailey’s Childhood: Race Matters Born 5 January 1931 into the abject poverty of rural Texas, Ailey was raised by his mother after his parents separated when he was an infant.