Three years before MLK’s “March on Washington,” Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations.” premiered in New York City. It had only been two short years since Ailey, a brilliant dancer/choreographer, and six other Black modern dancers first performed together as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. In the age of Jim Crowe and segregation, they brought their truth to the world. In a transcendent thirty-six minutes, Ailey captured the soul of Black America in glorious dance like never before and never since.
“From his roots as a slave, the American Negro – sometimes sorrowing, sometimes jubilant but always hopeful – has touched, illuminated, and influenced the most remote preserves of world civilization. I and my dance theater celebrate this trembling beauty.”
– Alvin Ailey
As a Black Gay man, Alvin Ailey stood at the intersection of the Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements. The latter being inspired by and standing shoulder to shoulder with the former.
His death in 1989 from AIDS was an immeasurable loss to the Black, Gay, and dance communities, as well as humanity itself; but the endure gifts of his choreography and company go on expressing their stories and filling the souls of all who see them with joy and hope.
As we celebrate Juneteenth at this regressive and perilous time for our country, much has and will be said about the vigilance required to preserve the freedom and civil rights gained, as well as the work still to be done in achieving full racial equity and justice in America.
Related Post: “Juneteenth 2020: “Hear Me Now,” My Message Continues”
But today, we celebrate; we revel in Black Excellence and Black Joy with Alvin Ailey’s seminal masterpiece, “Revelations.”
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Read our previous Pride Month 2023 posts: