Book

Dancing Revelations

Thomas F. DeFrantz

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780195301717
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850648 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195301717.001.0001
Dancing Revelations

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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 the civil rights struggle. This book chronicles the troupe's journey from a small modern dance company to one of the premier institutions of African American culture. The book not only charts this rise to national and international renown, but also contextualizes this progress within the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights struggles of the late 20th century. It examines the most celebrated Ailey dances, drawing on video recordings of Ailey's dances, published interviews, oral histories, and interviews with former Ailey company dancers. The book reveals the relationship between Ailey's works and African American culture as a whole. It illuminates the dual achievement of Ailey as an artist and as an arts activist committed to developing an African American presence in dance. It also addresses concerns about how dance performance is documented, including issues 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, the book illustrates how Ailey combined elements of African dance with motifs adapted from blues, jazz, and Broadway to choreograph his dances, arguing that Ailey played a significant role in defining the African American cultural canon.

Keywords: Alvin Ailey; dancers; civil rights; women's rights; gay rights; African American culture; spectatorship; sexuality; Black Arts; African dance

Book.  320 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Dance

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Table of Contents

Revelations 1962 in Dancing Revelations

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Early Dances in Dancing Revelations

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Early Company in Dancing Revelations

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Revelations II: 1969 in Dancing Revelations

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Touring, Touring, Touring in Dancing Revelations

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Other Dances in Dancing Revelations

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Ailey Celebrates Ellington in Dancing Revelations

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Gender and Spectatorship in Dancing Revelations

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Later Dances in Dancing Revelations

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