Based in New York City, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the preeminent dance companies in the United States. The company was founded in 1958 by Alvin Ailey with 7 other dancers. Ailey was a great dancer and choreographer who studied under such famous modern dancers as Lester Horton, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and others. His company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, has a wide repertoire and beautiful dancers, and if you have the chance to see one of their performances you should not miss it.
1. World Famous Repertoire
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has a world famous repertoire that is not to be missed. There are many well-known choreographic works the company performs; however, Revelations is their signature piece. It is set to spiritual and gospel music, including “I’ve Been Buked,” “Wade in the Water,” “I Wanna Be Ready,” “Fix Me, Jesus,” and “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” It is a very uplifting and moving work that is the most widely seen modern dance piece in the world. An excerpt of it was even performed at the inaugural concert for Jimmy Carter in 1977 at the Kennedy Center!
2. Variety of Dance Styles
One of the many reasons you should see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform is their eclectic style. The company is well versed in many dance styles. They utilize Graham, Horton, Dunham, jazz, and ballet, which makes their performances very interesting to watch. It also means there is something for everyone.
3. Athletic Dancers
Because the dancers have to be well versed in so many different dance styles, they are very strong. As a former dancer, I recognize the strength any form of dance requires. However, I am always impressed by the strength of the Ailey dancers. I had the opportunity to take an Ailey class one year, and I can tell you I found muscles I never knew I had! I have an enormous respect for the athletic ability of these dancers, and it is always amazing to watch how easy they can make very difficult steps look.
4. Uplifting and Moving Music
The music that the dances are set to is incredibly uplifting and joyful. When you see an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Performance you will find yourself tapping your foot to the beat on more than one occasion. As I mentioned before, Revelations is set to gospel music, but the company uses a variety of genres for their dances. Another Night, which is choreographed by Kyle Abraham, is set to jazz music. There are even pieces set to classical music. Often, these are modern pieces that add a whole new dimension to the music. Although you are going to the performance for the dancing, the music is an integral part that adds to the experience.
5. It is an Experience
Seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform is not like going to a typical performance. You will not find yourself watching and feeling disconnected from the dancers. On the contrary, you will find yourself thoroughly engaged with the performance. I mentioned before that you will probably tap your feet to the music. You also might find yourself humming along, and maybe you will even be on the edge of your seat. These dancers have an amazing ability to pull you in!
6. Universally Liked
One of the great things about the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is how everyone can relate to the dances. Because of this, even people who generally don’t like dance performances like Ailey. If you are a dance enthusiast, but your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t, I think you will both find something to enjoy if you go to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I have yet to find a person who does not thoroughly enjoy their performances!
7. The Artistry
Alvin Ailey was a great artist. His choreography is absolutely beautiful to watch. He knew how to use positive and negative space to create captivating dances. Even the costumes and props he chose enhanced the dances. The scarves and skirts in some of the pieces flow brilliantly on stage with the dancers movements. In addition to the artistry of the choreography, the artistry of the dancers is magnificent and is one of the reasons the performances are so mesmerizing.
If you have an opportunity to see an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance, don’t let it pass you by. The entire experience from the music to the dancers is not to be missed. I have only ever been able to see excerpts of Ailey works, but would jump at the opportunity to see an entire performance. Have you ever seen Alvin Ailey dancers perform?