Analysis Of Alvin Ailey 's House Of Flowers Essay

Analysis Of Alvin Ailey 's House Of Flowers Essay

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Born January 5th, 1931 in Texas, Alvin Ailey was an African-American dancer and choreographer. Leaving Texas to move to Los Angeles, he studied dance under modern choreographer Lester Horton, a teacher and choreographer of a modern dance school and company. He then moved on to pursue broadway, making his debut in Truman Capote’s House of Flowers in 1954, in New York (Alvin Ailey Biography n.d). It was here that he also had to opportunity to study dance with Martha Graham and in 1958 Ailey founded his own dance company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (Alvin Ailey Biography n.d). Over the course of his career Ailey both choreographed and danced in his pieces until his death in 1989. Ailey’s pieces include influence of African culture, most evident in his piece Revelations (1960). Studying this particular piece of work over the course of five weeks I saw that it was through the gospel music, the projection of the dancers bodies to the audience, and the african dance technique of contractions and grounding these influences can be seen. I then used this influences and incorporated them into my movement for the final piece. Although I struggled with certain aspects, I believe that by the performance I was able to embody some of these influences.

Revelations is a three part ballet which “explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.” (Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Inc. n.d). The use of African-American gospel and spiritual songs helps to portray these feelings. The decision by Ailey to use this type of music shows the influence that the African culture had upon his upbringing as this piece is said to be a tribute to his childhood in Texas and the Baptist Church (Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Inc. n.d). In particular, “Wa...


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...c, these influences can be seen. Growing up in Texas during the Great Depression would likely have had great impact on Ailey, and it is said that the inspiration to his piece Revelations draws on the “blood memories” (Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Inc. n.d) of his childhood and the Baptist Church. These memories of the Baptist Church can be seen throughout Revelations, particularly during Wade in the Water. While I was familiar with Ailey’s style already, I still feel as though I learned a great deal over the five weeks that we studied his work. I hope to continue to be able to use the different african dance techniques, such as the grounding through the legs and feet, in the future. Although Ailey passed away in 1989, his work is still studied and performed worldwide to this day and his legacy is continued through his school, Ailey School (Alvin Ailey Biography n.d).

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