One this rough childhood could have heldOne this rough childhood could have held

One of the most influential and well-known choreographers of the Postmodern Era is Alvin Ailey. “‘An enormous stain'” is how Alvin Ailey describes his influential childhood in the 1930s (Sanchez 10). However, behind every stain is a story. Ailey grew up without a father and picked cotton day-to-day in his home state, Texas (Sanchez 10). Because he was living in the Deep South, he endured racism from Jim Crow Laws and poverty from the Great Depression. Alvin Ailey’s childhood could have forced him to pursue this typical life track of an African American boy. Yet, Ailey, as well as his audience, soon realized his childhood brought a true gift to the art of dance. Although this rough childhood could have held him back, it did not. The Baptist Church he attended as well as the rhythmic blues music of the time influenced his style positively and kept his spirits high (Sanchez 10). He moved to Los Angeles with his mom in 1942 and decided later on to study from Lester Horton (“Alvin Ailey, Jr.”). Ailey made a bold dance choice when it came to studying dance. He participated in a variety of different classes of dance that most people would never take. Many of these dance forms dealt with the culture of minority groups because he wanted “to show the world that we are all human beings and that color is not important. What is important is the quality of our work” (“Alvin Ailey Quotes”). This benefitted Ailey because he gained many new perspectives from these “nontraditional classes”(Sanchez 10). Seven years later, Lester Horton died and Ailey took over the company for a little while. Unfortunately, the company never recovered and fell apart after a few years. Hopeful in himself, Ailey decided to try and create his own company and troupe; however, the beginning was definitely a struggle. Ailey kept trying until he created his ultimate masterpiece that changed his dance career forever, Revelations.Revelations is an exceptional dance work that has been influenced significantly by Ailey’s cultured childhood. His inspiration for this dance stems back to his childhood consisting of a full commitment in the Baptist Church and his love of the cultured blues music. The music used in this piece was inspired by this cultured African American blues music as well as work songs and spirituals. There are three sections in Revelations, which represent different facets of the Baptist Church. The first section is “Pilgrim of Sorrow” in which the dancers depict members of society hoping for salvation despite the difficulties of life. The dancers convey movements of reaching up towards the heavens; however, people are being pulled back to the physical world. The second section is “Take Me to the Water,” which portrays the sacrament of Baptism. The movements in this section suggest flowing water. They are all smooth movements that communicate a calming sense to the audience. The final part, “Move, Members, Move,” exhibits a congregation in worship. The movement proposes conversation, uneasiness during the heat, and the hope of salvation. (Bodensteiner, “Alvin Ailey and Revelations”). Ailey’s technique shines through because of the strong, elongated arm movements he choreographed. Furthermore, these movements uncover an emotional and spiritual piece with strong history and personal connection. When describing his magnificent and soulful work, Ailey used the term “blood memories” to describe his inspirations. This metaphor means that the memories used to create revelations were as strong and connected to him as his own blood, which ran through his veins (Bodensteiner, “Alvin Ailey and Revelations”).Along with the strong influence of the childhood of Alvin Ailey and Lester Horton, he was also significantly impacted by one of his students, Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou, the now famous poet, was once a student of Ailey; moreover, they performed together in a duo at clubs. This important relationship allowed Ailey to become more engaged not only in his technique, but in the presentation of his dances. Ailey began fancying over his music, costumes, lighting, background, and many more aspects of his performances (Sanchez 10).Another contribution Ailey made to the world of dance was the creation of his company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Ailey started his dance company in 1959 after Lester Horton’s company deteriorated. During the time he was starting his company, dance opportunities for African Americans were limited. He wanted to create a company where African Americans were able to express themselves through their background and culture. His company became internationally known because of Ailey’s motivational, humanistic vision (“Alvin Ailey”). Ailey became best known for his company’s dance troupe. He had joined one of Horton’s troupes in his younger years, but was inspired by him to make his own through the AADT (Sanchez 10).Because of all the influences and experiences Ailey had throughout his life, he began to develop and morph his own style. His style consisted of legs being in an “unbroken line” and also obtaining “expressive” posture. He also incorporated bending, turning and jumping across significant distances. Ailey as well added contraction of the muscles, dynamic, angular lines, and expressive and clean movements of the arms and hands. All of these elements of his style set him apart from other post modern choreographers.One of the most inspiring viewpoints of Alvin Ailey’s is the way he perceives dance. He viewed it as open to all people and a positive influence to all lives participating or watching dance. Ailey shows this openness and positivity when he claims, “dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people” (“Alvin Ailey Quotes”). When anyone in the dance world was criticized, he stood true to his beliefs and stood up for others who felt rejected. Sadly, Ailey passed away on December 1, 1989. Alvin Ailey is one of the most renowned dancers and choreographers of the Postmodern Era of dance.     Ailey’s style and technique leave an impact on the present day, even in our classroom. Aspects of dance that we talk about weekly are using full range of motion and using the full space of the floor. When dancing, it is important to never hold back, and to put in your best effort. Ailey used jumps across large surfaces, which reminds us of doing leaps across the the room from corner to corner. Also, a prominent factor of Ailey’s technique is contractions. In the class Dance Design & Performance 1, we worked on contractions a lot, emphasizing contracting from the ribs. Our perspective on dance has changed since learning about Alvin Ailey because we are now aware where some of the movements we do everyday come from.