Alvin Ailey Revelations
Revelations is a bold work of choreography by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. It shows the African American culture, traditions, faith, beliefs and history of their persistence from slavery to their freedom incorporating blues and spiritual music and dance. The part of “Fix me Jesus” relays a message strong faith and conviction between a woman and her minister that speak volumes about trust and balancing life issues. At the beginning, there is a cry for deliverance and the various problems of a world filled with numerous problems. The mood is replicated with the use of unique gestures as the performers have their heads bowed down and forward and their heavy bodies reaching up. The costumes are brown, and well skin toned. The somber music playing in the background also enhances the mood. Nine dancers work in harmony in “I’ve been Buked!” as they conduct a ritual. They dance forming a long diagonal across the stage while rotating and changing directions. There is also incorporation of a soothing saxophone into jazzy horns and ultimately a fast moving bass beat. In the scene “didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel”, a group of individuals expressing their pain suddenly and energetically moves their upper body by letting loose and making contractions. The second part re-enacts a baptism ceremony. A section of dancers in white enters the stage and act as the baptism agents. A young couple is baptized at the river by a devotional leader who is carrying a large umbrella. The river is being represented by many yards of bulging blue silk placed across the stage. A celebration is undertaken with a solo “I Wanna Be Ready” that relays the message of a devoted man’s preparations of for his death and incorporates dance. The final part commemorates the unshackled power of the music of the twentieth century. There is a trio “Sinner Man” and “Yellow” section in the setting of a rural Southern Baptist Church. The eighteen dancers wearing yellow show a service with fans and benches. They show the joy that comes with faith by performing intricate stepping patterns in a coordinated manner.
The dancers are well coordinated and relate easily to one another. They also have a profound stage presence and the music heightens the mood with Moroccan style chanting, percussion and disco electronica. The dance coordinates well with the flow of music to produce a dance masterpiece. The plot is also easily understandable and entertaining. The energetic dancers perform and integrate a variety of dances in their performance. The men use ballet to connect with the women. There was repeated twirling and movement across the stage in the ballet dance. The performance also uses modern dance such as disco marked by enthusiasm by the dancers and the traditional dances form a complex work of choreography. Individual dances also use modern dance to convey the true emotions of the character. The dances tell a story of rich culture, relationships, belief and determination among the community despite the many problems they undergo.
The choreography in this performance achieves success with the revealing of the message of pain, strength, courage, faith and the willingness to be free. The various dances for instance, when the dancers are looking down reflect a lot of emotional anguish. With their hands up, as if to God also shows surrender and need for help. The songs also relay a message that relates with the choreographed moves. The choreography outlines the struggles for civil rights among the African American community and the role played by women in scenes such as the woman and the minister. It also portrays the role of religion and its value to the community. Religious dances are performed at the baptism ceremony to highlight this. The dances are also well organized to show the systematic advances made by members this community. The dancers also relate well to show the various relationships and events that are a reality.