Revelations

Since its creation in 1960, Revelations has consistently enraptured audiences all over the world with its perfect blend of reverent grace and spiritual elation. Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece pays homage to and reflects the cultural heritage of the African-American, which Ailey considered one of America’s richest treasures – “sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” Choreographed when he was only 29 years old, Revelations is an intimate reflection inspired by childhood memories of attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas, and by the work of writers James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. Set to a suite of traditional spirituals, Revelations explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition, from the deepest of grief to the holiest joy. A classic tribute to the resolve and determination of a people, the ballet has been seen by more people around the world than any other modern work. 

Of its creation, Ailey once recalled: “I did it chronologically, leading off with the opening part of Revelations, which was...about trying to get up out of the ground. The costumes and the set would be colored brown, an earth color, for coming out of the earth, for going into the earth. The second part was something that was very close to me the baptismal, the purification rite. Its colors would be white and pale blue. Then there would be the section surrounding the gospel church, the holy rollers and all the church happiness. Its colors would be earth tones, yellow and black.” 

The ballet premiered at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA on January 31, 1960, and has since been performed a countless number of times all over the world. It was part of Opening Ceremonies of the 1968 Olympics, and has been presented at the White House on numerous occasions, including at the inaugurations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The piece has had many film and television broadcasts, its first, the 1962 CBS special Lamp Under my Feet. It is also the framework for Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach, a residency program that has been implemented in public schools around the country, and uses Ailey’s signature work as an organizing theme for a comprehensive, in-depth study of language arts, social studies and dance.

Alvin Ailey combined Horton technique with his own astounding choreographic vision to create a series of movement that intertwines impossible strength and ethereal grace. After six decades, this American classic has proven to be a cultural landmark in the world of dance, maintaining its astonishing originality and powerful elegance while continuing to inspire and enthrall audiences everywhere

Featured News Releases

Ailey Extension And AREA Atlanta Join Forces To Host Classes Led By Stars Of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater During First-Ever Virtual Ailey Experience Destination Dance Atlanta Workshop Series

(New York) January 27, 2021 – For the first time in the five-year history of its collaboration, Ailey Extension and AREA Atlanta are coming together to make the multi-day Ailey Experience Destination Dance Atlanta event into a virtual affair. This year’s participants are in for a unique treat, as the workshops will be taught by current Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company members. The three-day weekend experience immerses greater Atlanta residents in the spirit of Ailey with classes in Horton, contemporary, and West African techniques, while introducing dancers to the exciting world of choreography, creativity, and fun in a non-competitive environment. These classes and the preceding panel discussion allow participants to learn the rich history of Ailey’s signature style and how he changed the perception of American modern dance.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Presents Ailey Forward - First-Ever Virtual Season Celebrating Six Decades Of Revelations December 2 - 31, 2020

New York – November 10, 2020 – This holiday season, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will continue a tradition of uplifting and uniting audiences across the globe with a free virtual engagement celebrating six decades of Revelations, thanks to the generous support of Bank of America. Nine special presentations extending from December 2 – 31 will each be available online for a one-week period and open to all. Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will elevate a legacy of innovation and excellence in artistry with a reimagined season featuring premieres by Ailey’s Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts; and Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing, in partnership with Company member and Assistant to the Rehearsal Director Clifton Brown, and former Company member Yusha-Marie Sorzano; a variety of other distinct programs; and a series of BattleTalk conversations, moderated by Artistic Director Robert Battle.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Invites Viewers To Enjoy Family Programs During Ailey Forward - First-Ever Virtual Season Celebrating Six Decades Of Revelations

New York – December 4, 2020 – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater invites families around the world to gather for special family programming during Ailey Forward – the Company’s first-ever virtual holiday season. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will elevate a legacy of artistic innovation and excellence while celebrating six decades of Alvin Ailey’s timeless Revelations. Nine presentations through the holidays, each available free online for a week, carry on the tradition of uplifting audiences and making dance accessible to all with engaging family-friendly programs and interactive experiences to uplift and unite across generations.

Featured Press Coverage

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The New Yorker - Goings On About Town

Every December, the dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre fill the City Center stage, night after night, with their joy, very, and technical prowess. Traditionally, most of those performances end with "Revelations," Ailey's signature work from 1960. Ailey's virtual season kicks off, on Dec. 2, with an online gala, featuring excerpts from "Revelations," filmed outdoors at Wave Hill, in the Bronx.

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PIX 11 - Alvin Ailey Launches Livestream To Commemorate Iconic Work

The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater has become a cultural landmark in the world of dance. For the last six decades, dancers from the iconic company have performed signature masterpieces all over the globe. Now as we celebrate the holidays during these unprecedented times, the theater debuts its first virtual engagement to honor one of its classic ballets called Revelations.