Alvin Ailey’s ‘Revelations’ coming to Williams College
SHARON SMULLEN, Special to Berkshires Week
POSTED: 09/12/2013 01:14:33 PM EDT
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA To a soundtrack of soulful, soaring spirituals, arms outstretched like wings and heavenly pleas evoke both yearning and despair. A parasol shades frothy white dresses as a cloth river flows across the stage, while sun-yellow dresses herald joyful proclamation.
On Sept. 17, Alvin Aileys seminal 1960 work, “Revelations,” will anchor an Ailey II dance company performance at the 62 Center in Williamstown.
“This coming seasons theme is looking at art that is considered classic,” said Sandra Burton, who for the past 30 years has led the Williams College Dance Department.
“Revelations really emerged as one of the great pieces of choreography from the last century,” she explained. “It struck a deep chord, not only with African-Americans but with all Americans. It is a perpetual affirmation of the human spirit.”
Burton will interview artistic director emerita Sylvia Waters during the companys visit, which includes a master class. “Shes one of those former Ailey dancers who thrilled us,” Burton recalled. “She is really invested in what dance brings to education.”
While Jacobs Pillow attracts world class dancers each summer, “having artists of this caliber in residence when students are around is extremely important,” she said. “Our community and our students really love dance.”
Born in 1931, Ailey built on the work of African-American pioneers Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus and Zora Neale Hurston, she explained. “He was inspired by these women and by his experience as an African-American, the things he witnessed and experienced historically.”
Raised in Texas, Ailey moved to California as a teen and studied with Lester Horton, one of the few 1950s dance teachers who educated anyone seeking training at his integrated school; he subsequently joined Hortons company.
When his mentor died, Ailey assumed the helm, continuing Hortons tradition after moving to New York and founding the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in 1958, Burton said. Ailey choreographed some 80 ballets before passing away in 1989.
Ailey II began in 1974 as a second company focused on outreach in the community, said Artistic Director Troy Powell, who started Ailey School classes at age 9, personally selected for a full scholarship by Alvin Ailey.
He joined Ailey II in 1988, and the first company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, in 1991, dancing and traveling around the world for some 10 years.
Eighty-five percent of first company members started off in the second company, he said.
In 2006, then-artistic director Sylvia Waters began grooming Powell to take over the company she had led since its inception. Last year, Powell, age 44, became only the second artistic director in Ailey IIs 40 year history.
“It has always been a dream of mine to give back to the younger generation what I learned from Mr. Ailey,” he said.
In recent years, the company has added Europe to its touring schedule, which includes venues like Jacobs Pillow and Harlems Apollo Theater.
“It definitely elevated the dancers to another level of artistry,” Powell said. “As a younger director, my mission is to keep the company young and fresh and to grow from there.”
The six men and six women in Ailey II perform works by emerging and established choreographers, including classics like Aileys “Revelations.”
Anybody, regardless of age, color, beliefs or economic status can relate to “Revelations,” Powell explained.
“What keeps it alive is the history and story,” he said. “What makes it so beautiful is the audience connection.”
“Revelations” is based on “blood memories” of Ailey’s Texas childhood, Powell said, “going through trials and tribulations, blues, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, the Depression, poverty. And the church being a celebration of all of those things.”
Putting that on stage was unheard of during the racism and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s, he noted.
At 15, Powell learned sections of “Revelations” from Ailey. “He encouraged us to be individuals and express our humanity in the most honest way possible.”
“Ailey was all about making dance accessible. To those who couldn’t afford it, he gave us scholarships and exposed us to a whole different world.”
Tuesdays diverse program will include Ailey’s “Streams,” an abstract work with different textures, moods and currents; and “Virtues” by Amy Hall Garner with its upbeat, jazzy feel.
While he no longer performs, Powell immerses himself in the work.
“I’m watching every night and a lot of these works I’ve danced, so I still see myself in these dancers,” Powell said. “I miss it.
I choose this article because it reflects so much on Alvin Ailey’s legacy and work. Ailey passed in 1989 and his work still lives on today. Mr. Powell has taken over Alvin Ailey II. One of the most memorable pieces are Revelations. Along side African Americans, everyone is connected to the history and story of this performance. “Revelations” is based on “blood memories” of Ailey’s Texas childhood, Powell said, “going through trials and tribulations, blues, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, the Depression, poverty. And the church being a celebration of all of those things.” Ailey believed dance was for everyone, scholarships were given to students who could not afford to dance. Powell no longer dances, but still sees himself in every performance, His goal is to make sure Alvin Ailey’s legacy lives on. I admire Alvin Ailey’s efforts to give everyone a chance to dance and see the world from a different perspective. He has done so much for everyone.
Dance Currents Presents ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MODERN DANCE Tonight
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👤by Dance News Desk
Dance Currents Presents ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MODERN DANCE Tonight
Dance Currents presents “One Hundred Years of Modern Dance” tonight, September 28, 10AM at the Underground Theater, 7 Medford St., Arlington, Mass., with workshop to follow in Modern Technique/Repertory.
Modern Dance developed in the last one hundred years as a way to free the spirit in dance. Since then it has become a dance language with its own particular movement vocabulary and some of its own forms, but the original impulse, which was the freeing of the human spirit to dance is the force which drives the growth of Modern Dance. This concert will include the historical repertory of Dance Currents, Inc., including works by Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Charles Weidman, Anna Sokolow, Donald McKayle, Jose Limon, David Parsons and Robert Battle. Under the direction of Ms. Hassinger, the well-trained dancers in the company are Jennifer Burpee, Jennifer Cote’, Whitney Cover, Sarah Josselyn, Liann Lim, Lauren Previte, Kai Sherman and Alison Smith.
The program is as follows: Narcissus (1903) by Isadora Duncan, the classic story of self discovery, which reveals her love of, and harmony with, nature. Incense (1906) by Ruth St. Denis, an honoring or blessing of the performance space in the spirit of a Hindu ritual. Mazurka and Tango (1920) by Ted Shawn, two pieces from a collection of sixteen dances in sixteen rhythms. Three Brahms Waltzes (1964), choreographed by Charles Weidman in memory of his partner, Doris Humphrey. The Pond and the Cage, (1981) by Anna Sokolow, which deals with the alienation of self absorbtion. Rainbow Etude (1996, after Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder, 1959) by Donald McKayle, is the story of a man on a chain gang looking for signs of rain, or release.Limon Etude, arranged by Carla Maxwell in 2001-2002 and based on Jose Limon’s movement (b.1908-d.1972), is done toGretchen am Spinnrade, Schubert’s song of love and longing. Parsons Etude, by David Parsons, a collection of his movement phrases done in rapid fire to a hard driving contemporary beat by Tony Powell, and Battle Etude, a piece choreographed by Robert Battle, the current Head of the Alvin Ailey Company. Together the dances present an evolution of modern dance, from the simple purity of natural movement to the intricacy of contemporary dance. Jill Beck from the Labanotation Bureau coached Ms. Hassinger on the St. Denis, Shawn, Weidman and Sokolow pieces with help from Jim and Lorry May on The Pond and the Cage. Ms. Hassinger learned Narcissus from Pat Adams, and The American Dance Legacy, principally through the instruction of Caroline Adams, Laura Bennett, and Erica Pujic were invaluable resources for the McKayle, Limon, Parsons and Battle Etudes.
Read more about Dance Currents Presents ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MODERN DANCE Tonight – BWWDanceWorld by http://www.broadwayworld.com
I choose this article because it explains the human spirit being set free to dance. I relate to this because modern dance allows you to gracefully move your body where ever it takes you. It is being recognized as 100 years of freeing the spirit. This article elaborates on different dance performances and events as a tribute to modern dance in society..
.Dance Spotlight: Alicia Graf Mack on keeping Alvin Ailey legacy alive
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will combine contemporary pieces with the landmark ‘Revelations’ at the Music Center.
March 08, 2013
Alicia Graf Mack in Alvin Ailey’s “Memoria.”
Alicia Graf Mack in Alvin Ailey’s “Memoria.” (Dance at the Music Center )
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Music Center in April with three programs of mixed repertory, combining contemporary works with such Ailey classics as 1960’s “Revelations.”
Alicia Graf Mack, who rejoined the company in 2011 after she was sidelined with an injury for three years, will be front and center in many of the performances. The dancer for the 55-year-old company talked about the engagement while on tour in Gainesville, Fla.
I choose this article because Alicia is inspired by Alvin Ailey’s work. She is now recovering from an injury and getting prepared to dance again as lead woman. This program is worth keeping alive despite anything and it shows in all his dancers.
Alvin Ailey: Revelations Of A Star Choreographer
May 17, 1987 | By Nancy Goldner, Inquirer Dance Critic
If you ask Alvin Ailey to talk about himself as a black choreographer, he grows testy. “We like to be called ‘choreographers,’ ” he says sternly. But if he is not a “black choreographer,” which is a matter of category, Ailey is certainly a man whose choreography borrows from the black experience, which is a matter of humanity. “Of course there is something black in my work,” he says – “me and my 56 years. ” One feels that if Ailey didn’t have a company to run, another ballet to plan, a school to supervise and a hectic tour schedule to follow – a schedule that brings the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Tuesday for a week’s performances – he would like to reminisce for hours about those 56 years.
An excellent dancer, doesn’t see himself as even a good dancer.This is one of the qualities I admire about Alvin Ailey. .
The Alvin Ailey Dances: Reflections Of His Roots
May 21, 1989 | By Nancy Goldner, Inquirer Dance Critic
Whatever the subject of the moment, Alvin Ailey finds a way to thread it back to what came before – to an earlier dance, to the various people who have served him as mentors and inspirations and even further back in time to his first tender years in the Brazos Valley of Texas. Take Judith Jamison, still the brightest star in his eyes. You’d think it was the utter singularity of her face and body that so attracted Ailey to her. But no. His first and most deeply felt comment about Jamison is that she reminds him of one Ophelia Wilkes, his next-door neighbor in his boyhood home of Rogers, Texas.
Alvin Ailey’s inspiration comes from his roots. I admire that Alvin Ailey used were he came from to shape his future. No one should ever forget where they came from. In this case, he used his experience in life to shape him to be an amazing dancer.
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