Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $11.49
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 61%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $11.49   
  • New (4) from $25.88   
  • Used (6) from $11.49   


In the early 1960s, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was a small, multiracial 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. In Dancing Revelations, Thomas DeFrantz chronicles the troupe's journey from a small modern dance company to one of the premier institutions of African American culture. He 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 twentieth century. DeFrantz examines the most celebrated Ailey dances, including Revelations, drawing on video recordings of Ailey's dances, published interviews, oral histories, and his own interviews with former Ailey company dancers. Through vivid descriptions and beautiful illustrations, DeFrantz reveals the relationship between Ailey's works and African American culture as a whole. He illuminates the dual achievement of Ailey as an artist and as an arts activist committed to developing an African American presence in dance. He 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 Dancing Revelations, DeFrantz illustrates how Ailey combined elements of African dance with motifs adapted from blues, jazz, and Broadway to choreograph his dances. By re-interpreting these tropes of black culture in his original and well-received dances, DeFrantz argues that Ailey played a significant role in defining the African American cultural canon in the twentieth century. As the first book to examine the cultural sources and cultural impact of Ailey's work, Dancing Revelations
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195301717
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/13/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,152,016
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas DeFrantz earned degrees from Yale, the City University of New York, and the Performance Studies Department of New York University. He organized the dance history program at the Ailey School, and is editor of Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance. His writings have appeared in the Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History, and the Village Voice. Also a performer and choreographer, DeFrantz has taught at NYU and Stanford University. He is currently Associate Professor of Theater Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction xi
1 Revelations 1962 3
Why Revelations Worked 14
Break: Black Modernism 19
Situating Revelations in African American Cultural Life 23
2 Early Dances 26
Ailey's Childhood: Race Matters 27
Break: Unquenchable Racial Desire 35
Blues Suite 38
Ailey's Early Dances 44
Hermit Songs 46
3 Early Company 51
Early Years in New York 54
Early Residencies 57
Southeast Asia Tour 60
Break: "Official" African American Culture 69
Riedaiglia 73
4 Revelations II: 1969 75
Break: Versioning 82
Multiracial Concert Dance 85
Revelations 1975 89
5 Touring, Touring, Touring 93
Quintet 94
Swelling Popularity 99
Break: Jazz Dance 101
Flowers 104
The Popular Audience 108
Break: No Exit from Racism 112
6 Reflecting a Spectrum of Experience 115
Masekela Language 117
The Lark Ascending 127
Hidden Rites 130
7 Other Dances 136
Feast of Ashes 137
Break: Black Dancer, White Dance 145
The River 148
8 Ailey Celebrates Ellington 160
The Ellington Connection 161
Break: Heroes 167
Ailey Celebrates Ellington 171
Pas de "Duke" 174
Ellingtonia 177
9 Gender and Spectatorship 180
Cry 182
Love Songs 185
Masked Spectatorship: Ailey's Representation of Sexuality 188
Break: Sex 189
Streams 192
Break: Black Atlantic Dance 197
10 Later Dances 200
Memoria 205
Au Bord du Precipice 213
Survivors 223
Break: Alvin Ailey, Public and Private 229
11 Concluding Moves 232
The Ailey after Ailey 235
Revelations 2003 236
Appendix Choreography 241
Notes 257
Bibliography 275
Index 289
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2013

    Scholastic for the Ailey fan

    Very difficult to read the first chapter but once you get to the second chapter it becomes more interesting. Many facts from what Ailey had to go through and very detailed dances written here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)