Alvin Ailey- Revelations Essay
2329 WordsJan 9th, 201310 Pages
Alvin Ailey’s Revelations was premiered in 1960 and is based on Alvin Ailey’s childhood memories of worshipping at his Baptist church in Texas. The music within Revelations is a compilation of African American spirituals which helps to develop the idea of the music that was played and sung in the small black churches near to where Alvin lived with his mother during his childhood. Throughout Revelations you see and feel a mixture of emotions as the story starts to unfold and you can see clearly the intensity of how much his life has influenced revelations largely.
Revelations is split up into three sections and each section has three or four sub-sections. Section 1 entitled Pilgrim of sorrow contains ‘I’ve been buked’, ‘didn’t my lord…show more content…
The use of contractions help to show the strength that it takes them to try and be free but are still not strong enough to get away as it is shown when the women sink to their knees whilst performing a slow contraction. In the closing phrase of this sub section there is a rapid change of levels as the tempo speeds up the dancers perform a manic spiralling to drop down to make an obvious abrupt end.
Contrasting to ‘Didn’t my lord deliver Daniel’ we move onto ‘Fix me Jesus’ which is performed as a duet and portrays the priest and someone that has gone to confess. The lighting changes to blue and white which gives a crystal like intensity. At the start of this section the male figure is stood behind the women and almost covers her movements as if to protect her and to show the trust. The repetition of the women’s hand gestures also seems as if he’s giving her his blessing. There is also repetition from sub section one ‘I’ve been buked’ with the use of proximity and actions such as the bird pose which helps to portray the emotion of this part. Throughout this part the women doesn’t always focus on her partner but is still reliable on him. This is shown through tilted balances and lifts where the male is the supporter. There is an extensive use of weight bearing, strength and trust which are all metaphors within this piece and the use of off kilter positions and balletic actions help to enhance the mood.
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Members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform “Revelations” nearly as often as ordinary people brush their teeth. This magnificent work, created by Alvin Ailey in 1960, is a dance on land and in water, a journey through African-American spiritual music and, for dancers, an act of reverence for the generations that came before.
“It doesn’t matter how tired I am,” said Briana Reed, a company member since 1998. “As soon as the music starts, I feel myself transported to another place.”
Told in three sections —“Pilgrim of Sorrow,” “Take Me to the Water” and “Move, Members, Move” — Ailey’s burning exploration of grief and joy celebrates its 50th anniversary on Wednesday at City Center. As part of the season-long commemoration, the troupe’s artistic director, Judith Jamison, will conduct performances on Friday and Saturday nights. “It’s like a port de bras for me,” she said. “It’s just so easy to breathe with that music.”
Recently Ms. Jamison and a few others fleshed out crucial moments of the dance. “It means the world to me to have done that ballet,” she said. “It’s a classic work, and it will remain in my body.”
‘I Been ’Buked’ From ‘Pilgrim of Sorrow’
Ms. Jamison calls “ ’Buked,” above, the ultimate prayer. “I always tell the dancers, ‘If you’re not sweating after you do that, then you haven’t done it correctly,’ ” she said. “That is a hard dance to do, to give it the sense of strain and weight, even if it’s just by listening to the words: ‘I’ve been ’buked, and I’ve been scorned.’ That is the weight of the world on shoulders being pulled down into the earth.” Such yearning comes to life through the movement — arms outstretched, heads tilted back, the dancers lift their sternums toward the heavens. Masazumi Chaya, the company’s associate artistic director, said: “Actually, the movement drops, but I don’t want it to really drop. I want the dancers to catch it! And open their hearts to receive it. I tell them to receive that light, and that energy comes through.” The dancer Amos J. Machanic Jr., center rear, added: “Life has just beaten you down, but at the same time the words also talk about not giving up even in the midst of sorrow, even in the midst of a storm. When that music comes on, a sense of calm comes over me, and it reminds me of how badly I wanted to be in the company.”
‘Processional/Honor, Honor’ From ‘Take Me to the Water’
In this sacred, joyful section — captured here moments before “Wade in the Water,” in which rippling sheets of silk are held across the stage — a woman prepares for her baptism. Linda Celeste Sims, at left, second from right, said: “It’s about cleansing and changing and becoming someone better. The beauty of ‘Revelations’ is that we are all dealing with something, and it doesn’t matter what religion or race or nationality we are. We can start to move ahead — not worrying so much about the past, but continuing forward. It’s like you’re being baptized.” For Ms. Jamison, it depicts a serious ritual of the church: “The baptism is one of the holiest events in the church, particularly in the black church, and so being completely submerged in that water and brought up and having a new life is what that is about. In that we see hope.”Continue reading the main story