Alvin Ailey Essay

This essay has a total of 565 words and 3 pages.

Alvin Ailey



Every company has what is known as a “signature piece,” that is, a work which expresses
something about the artistic direction and the spirit of the company. For the Alvin Ailey
Dance Theater that piece is Revelations. Choreographed and set to traditional music,
Revelations was first performed at the Ninety-second Street YM-YWHA New York, NY., January
31, 1960. The lead dancers were Joan Derby, Minnie Marhsall, Merle Derby, Dorene
Richardson, Jay Fletcher, Nathaniel Horne, and Herman Howell and the soloists were Nancy
Redi and Gene Hobgood. The music was performed by the Music Masters Guild Chorus of the
Harlem Branch YMCA under the direction of Frank Thomas. The piece as originally performed
consisted of danced portions and music interleudes grouped under three broad headings,
“Pilgrim of Sorrow,” “That Love My Jesus Gives Me,” and “Move, Members, Move.” The work
was revised extensively a month after its first performance and was again given at the
Ninety-second Street YM-YWHA. Revelations has been seen in every country that the company
has toured and has been universally acclaimed.

Born in Rogers, Texas on January 5, 1931, Alvin Ailey spent his formative years going to
Sunday School and participating in The Baptist Young People's Union. At age twelve, he
moved to Los Angeles and, on a junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte
Carlo, fell in love with concert dance. Ailey began his formal dance training inspired by
the performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and the classes with Lester Horton
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