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Alvin Ailey

Brief History of Alvin Ailey

Kaitlin Stein

on 23 February 2013

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Transcript of Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey's History Alvin Ailey Jr. was born on January 5, 1931 in central Texas. Alvin worked hard to develop a dancers body. He would assess his physical accomplishments by how high he could jump or whether he could use his body to express his emotions.
Alvin began college at Los Angeles City College in the spring on 1950. He balanced dance classes there with a job. Expenses associated with attending college in addition to dance classes became too high and he dropped out of college.
A friend recommended that he study at Lester Horton's dance school. Horton was known for accepting any student as long as he or she worked hard. Horton wanted students to dare their bodies, to give students a sense of living a full life, and to be excited to dance.
After a few years of intense study at the school, Alvin progressed as a dancer. When Horton suddenly died of a massive heart attack (due to drinking), Alvin took over the company and immersed himself in the studio and into dance. He was choreographing dances as well as teaching classes, although he soon found out he was not teaching the Horton technique! Alvin began creating his own style of dance but could never remember exactly what he taught. Students thought this approach to dance was wonderful because they were getting the feeling that they were moving while he choreographed. What is going on in History? The 1960s were an era of dramatic political change within the US especially for African Americans as it is the beginning of the civil rights movement.
As African Americans organize and fight for their rights as citizens, several prominent black leaders emerged. Principle among these leaders was the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King directed a peaceful march in Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people. To these individuals he delivered his address, “I Have a Dream” wherein he outlined a future where Black Americans had the same opportunities that whites had.
The musical scene was also undergoing radical change during this time. Ray Charles, a poor African American, worked his way up the economic ladder with his voice. He won several Grammy awards for his music. Who is Alvin Ailey? As an African American dancer and choreographer, he steadily changed the face of concert dance, influencing audiences to see black dancers embracing the stage and breaking down stereotypes of African Americans and their ability to dance on the concert stage. Alvin Ailey's Contributions Within a very short time, Alvin was making real contributions to the concert dance stage. First, Ailey clearly demonstrated that African Americans had the ability to dance as well or even better than whites. Blues Suite (1958) was his first major work. The piece communicated Ailey’s memories of childhood and his love for his heritage.
In 1958 Alvin opened up his own company called the Alvin Ailey American Dance School. This school new pieces of Ailey’s choreography and performed previous modern pieces. Alvin’s style of dance was a fusion on ballet, modern, and jazz. It reflected spiritually based themes. Revelations Revelation’s ( his signature piece) had three major movements. The opening movement, Pilgrim of Sorrow, was about slavery and politically what was going on during the time (i.e., Civil Rights movement).
The next section was Take me to the Water. This movement was about a baptismal service. It was upbeat and featured the technical background of his dancers.
The final section More, Members, More represented a church service. This movement was the show stopper. The dancers expressed their heart and soul. At this pivotal point, American audiences turned to African American dance because it reflects dance that they related to. References Alvin Ailey and His Influence on Concert Dance View an excerpt from Revelations! Books: Au, S. (2002). Ballet and Modern Dance (2nd Ed.). New York: Thames & Hudson.Dunning, J (1996). Alvin Ailey A Life in Dance ( 1st Ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Websites:
DeFrantz, T. F. (1996). Alvin Ailey. In Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, vol 5. Retrieved from www.pbs.org/wnet/freetodance/biographies/ailey.html, date retrieved: December 5, 2006.

Mcdonagh, D. (1998). Reflections of Alvin-choreographer Alvin Ailey.Dance Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1083/is_1998_Dec/ai_53280636/pg_1,Date Retrieved: December 5, 2006.

Viemo. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/10185543, Date Retrieved from February 22, 2013
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