Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture

Book

© 2004 by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. In the early 1960s, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was a small, multi-racial company of dancers that performed the works of its founding choreographer and other emerging artists. By the late 1960s, the company had become a well-known African American artistic group closely tied to the civil rights struggle. This book chronicles the troupe's journey from a small modern dance company to one of the premier institutions of African American culture. The book not only charts this rise to national and international renown, but also contextualizes this progress within the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights struggles of the late 20th century. It examines the most celebrated Ailey dances, drawing on video recordings of Ailey's dances, published interviews, oral histories, and interviews with former Ailey company dancers. The book reveals the relationship between Ailey's works and African American culture as a whole. It illuminates the dual achievement of Ailey as an artist and as an arts activist committed to developing an African American presence in dance. It also addresses concerns about how dance performance is documented, including issues around spectatorship and the display of sexuality, the relationship of Ailey's dances to civil rights activism, and the establishment and maintenance of a successful, large-scale Black Arts institution. Throughout, the book illustrates how Ailey combined elements of African dance with motifs adapted from blues, jazz, and Broadway to choreograph his dances, arguing that Ailey played a significant role in defining the African American cultural canon.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • DeFrantz, TF

Published Date

  • October 3, 2011

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 320

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780199850648

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195301717.001.0001

Citation Source

  • Scopus