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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater



About Alvin Ailey

Ailey’s Style

Born in a small Texas town in 1931, Alvin Ailey began his dance training at age eleven by being exposed to classical, social, and folk dances, as well as new techniques of modern dance.

Alvin Ailey’s dance style developed from his memories of growing up in the South and his careful observation of human movement. Ailey then assembled movements to create dances that were uniquely his own. During the miniperformance, watch for movements that show:

Ailey embarked on his career during a period when opportunities for African American dancers like himself were severely limited. Ailey wanted to create a company that allowed African American dancers to display their talents and to express their experiences and heritage. Decades later, when he formed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, it was one of the first professional companies where dancers of all races and backgrounds were welcome.

• turning, bending, and jumping across large distances • contracted muscles, creating forceful, angular lines • expressive hand movements • influences from African American culture

Performances for Young Audiences is made possible by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

About The Program Anointed (2010)

Choreographed by Christopher L. Huggins Music by Moby and Sean Clements Before Alvin Ailey died in 1989, he “anointed” or chose dancer Judith Jamison to carry his company forward into the future. As artistic director and keeper of the flame for 21 years, Jamison preserved and enriched the company. And this year, she will turn the task over to choreographer Robert Battle. Anointed tells the story about the company's past, present, and future. • In “Passing,” a male dancer representing Ailey cradles, lifts, and supports a female dancer symbolizing Jamison. Watch for how “Ailey” carries “Jamison” off the stage into the “future.” • The female dancer returns in “Sally Forth” to lead four women who represent the central female figures who helped advance the company’s mission for five decades. Watch the women as they dance to percussive music celebrating their collective sisterhood. • “52 and Counting,” is a nod to the company’s 52-year history. Watch how “Mr. Battle” is chosen as the next generation of Ailey leadership.


(1960) Choreographed by Alvin Ailey Traditional African American Spirituals Music In celebration of Revelations' 50th anniversary, there will be a short documentary shown on the history and significance of this classic work. Ailey's masterwork, Revelations, is based on the choreographer's childhood recollections of growing up in the South. Using traditional African American blues, work songs, and spirituals as his inspiration, Ailey created a picture some have called an anthem to the human spirit. Revelations is divided into three sections: • In “Pilgrim of Sorrow,” the dancers portray people who hope for salvation in spite of life’s difficulties. Watch for the movements that suggest reaching toward heaven and being pulled back to earth. • “Take Me to the Water” depicts Ailey’s own baptism—the ritual in which one becomes a full member of the congregation—which took place in a pond behind his church. Watch for movements suggesting rippling water. • “Move, Members, Move” begins as a church congregation gathers to worship. Watch for movements that suggest gossiping conversations, discomfort on a hot day, and the hope of salvation.

David M. Rubenstein Chairman Michael M. Kaiser President Darrell M. Ayers Vice President, Education Additional support for Performances for Young Audiences is provided by The U.S. Department of Education, The President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, and The Clark Charitable Foundation. Cuesheets are made possible by the U.S. Department of Education, AT&T, the Carter and Melissa Cafritz Charitable Trust, James V. Kimsey, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, and Dr. Deborah Rose and Dr. Jan A. Stolwijk, and the Verizon Foundation.

Cuesheets are produced by ARTSEDGE, a program of the Kennedy Center Education Department. ARTSEDGE is a part of Verizon Thinkfinity, a consortium of free educational Web sites for K-12 teaching and learning. For more about the performing arts and arts education, visit the Kennedy Center’s Education Department online at The U.S. Department of Education supports approximately one-third of the budget for the Kennedy Center Education Department. The contents of this Cuesheet do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s R. Deshauteurs, O. Jackson, G. DeVore and D. Hopkins in Christopher L. Huggins’ Anointed. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater | Mini-Performance  

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater shares "Ailey Magic" with students, giving insights into the history of the company and its founder Alvin...