The choreographic work Revelations features the performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The artwork was produced in 1960 when the U.S. was experiencing social transformation from racism to equality. In this regard, the dance describes the story of African Americans and their struggles from slavery through segregation to freedom. It involves a collection of moves set in blues and spiritual music to describe the narrative. Meanwhile, the presenting company Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comprised of young modern dancers. It was founded in 1958 by Alvin Ailey, an African American choreographer to popularize the art of his community. Therefore, Revelations is a narrative rooted in the history of slavery and constrained human rights in the U.S.
Revelations entails three distinct sections, including “Pilgrim of Sorrow,” “Take Me to the Water,” and “Move, Members, Move.” The lighting, costume, movement, props, and music accompaniment vary with each section. The “Pilgrim of Sorrow” bestows weigh and strain on the artists by requiring them to frequently outstretch their arms, tilt their heads back, and lift their sternums toward the heavens. The props are constantly repeated despite changes in encompassed music. “Take Me to the Water” illustrates a baptismal ceremony that features the dancers in white costumes in procession to the purification stream. The joyous section involves the performers depicting the cleaning of the sky and earth, baptism, and celebration. “Move Members, Move” is a suite of dazzling leaps and pirouettes to mark the joy of faith. The dancers illustrate exuberance and high-energy props to present divinity in the human form.
Revelations involves a collection of traditional spirituals. The dancers utilize the body movements to present a narrative. Thus, the dance entails a classical ballet with fantastical sets and costumes that emphasize graceful expressions. The choreographer intends to create a clear description of the African American’s religiosity. The combination of different props contributes to the delivery of the message, meaning that the dance is a narrative. The movements convey a story; for instance, cleansing of the sky in “Take Me to the Water.” Therefore, the message in Revelations is obtained from the observation of the dancers’ activities rather than then the settings.
The choreographer in Revelations achieved his intention. The primary objective to create a narrative about the life and struggles of African Americans is attained in the three sections. The story is intertwined in the description of religion in “Pilgrim of Sorrow” when an individual does not have relation with God and “Take Me to the Water” when baptism creates new hope and inspiration. Ailey was successful in communicating an overall idea by exploring different facets of religion among African Americans. Moreover, the dancers were proficient in the presentation of the work. Their costumes, settings, music, and lighting enhanced the dance. For instance, the white costumes illustrate a ritual in “Take Me to the Water” similarly to the stools in “Move Members, Move.”
The dance presents the critical features of classical ballet. It illustrates the utilization of performance to convey a message or tell a story. In this regard, Revelations connects to class work by depicting the critical role of energy and motivation in the delivery of successful dance. It also describes the historical period when symmetry and graceful expression were essentials features. Besides recommending the dance to other people, I would attend more performance of the company in the future. The experience trained me that dance is art with a central role in the description of the social history of humankind.
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