Dancing Revelations: Alvin Aileys Embodiment of African American Culture

Paperback | February 15, 2006

byThomas F. Defrantz

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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 theCivil Rights struggle. In Dancing Revelations, Thomas DeFrantz chronicles the troupe's journey from a small modern dance company to one of the premier institutions of African American culture. He not only charts this rise to national and international renown, but also contextualizes this progresswithin the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights struggles of the late 20th century. DeFrantz examines the most celebrated Ailey dances, including Revelations, drawing on video recordings of Ailey's dances, published interviews, oral histories, and his own interviews with former Ailey company dancers. Through vivid descriptions and beautiful illustrations, DeFrantz reveals therelationship between Ailey's works and African American culture as a whole. He illuminates the dual achievement of Ailey as an artist and as an arts activist committed to developing an African American presence in dance. He also addresses concerns about how dance performance is documented, includingissues 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 Dancing Revelations, DeFrantz illustrates how Ailey combined elements of African dance with motifs adapted from blues, jazz, and Broadway to choreograph his dances. By re-interpreting these tropes of black culture in his original and well-received dances, DeFrantz argues that Aileyplayed a significant role in defining the African American cultural canon in the twentieth century. As the first book to examine the cultural sources and cultural impact of Ailey's work, Dancing Revelations is an important contribution to modern dance history and criticism as well asAfrican-American studies.

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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 theCivil Rights struggle. In Dancing Revelation...

Thomas DeFrantz earned degrees from Yale, the City University of New York, and the Performance Studies Department of New York University. He organized the dance history program at the Ailey School, and is editor of Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance. His writings have appeared in the Encyclopedia of African Amer...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:620 pages, 5.91 × 9.09 × 0.91 inPublished:February 15, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195301714

ISBN - 13:9780195301717

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Table of Contents

ContentsPrefaceAcknowledgementsIntroductionRevelations 1962Early DancesEarly CompanyRevelations II 1969Touring, Touring, TouringReflecting a Spectrum of ExperienceOther DancesAiley Celebrates EllingtonAiley's Construction of Gender and SpectatorshipLater DancesConcluding MovesAppendix: Choreography by Alvin AileyBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Surely Alvin Ailey's Choreographic Legacy deserves serious scrutiny. Finally, Thomas DeFrantz offers a complete analysis of Ailey's dances and their meaning. An important volume for anyone interested in the history of dance, African American culture, and how modern dance is viewed around theworld today."--Donald Byrd, choreographer and Artistic Director, Spectrum Dance Theater