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

The Ailey Spirit Benefit, Still, We Dance, To Be Presented For The First Time As A Global Broadcast Thursday, June 11 At 7:30pm ET

New York – Updated June 10, 2020 – The Ailey organization continues its mission of using dance to uplift and unite all people with the first-ever Ailey Spirit Benefit global broadcast on Thursday, June 11 at 7:30pm ET featuring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, rising stars of Ailey II, young dancers from The Ailey School and students from AileyCamp. The Ailey All Access special program will include guest appearances by Angela Bassett, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom, Jr., Timothy Shriver, Lorraine Toussaint and remarks by Bryan Stevenson, who has been at the forefront of confronting injustice, poverty and discrimination. “Just Mercy,” his bestselling book that was recently adapted into a feature film, tells the powerful true story of his creation of the Equal Justice Initiative, which will receive a designated donation from the evening’s proceeds.

The Ailey Spirit Gala First-Ever Global Broadcast Thursday, June 11 at 7:30pm ET

New York – May 26, 2020 – The Ailey organization is proud to continue its mission of using dance to uplift and unite all people with the first-ever Ailey Spirit Gala global broadcast on Thursday, June 11 at 7:30pm ET featuring the incomparable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the rising stars of Ailey II, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School and talented students from the AileyCamp, along with special guest appearances.

Ailey All Access To Bring Dance To The People With Online Streaming Of Performances, Classes, Workshops, Conversations And Original Short Films Created By The Ailey Dancers

New York, NY – March 27, 2020 – The Ailey organization is reaching out to share the Ailey spirit with people wherever they are during this challenging time through Ailey All Access – an online streaming series featuring performances of full length works from the repertory, Ailey Extension dance classes, and original short films created by the Ailey dancers, and other especially created content.

Featured Press Coverage

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Vogue - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Hosted Its Spirit Gala Online — And You Can Watch It Through June 18

This spring has seen ballet leap into the digital world... Hosted last night on YouTube, the night raised funds for the Ailey company as well as the Equal Justice Initiative (a non-profit organization providing legal representation to the wrongly convicted and the disadvantaged). The night would bring a world premiere, archival footage of one of Mr. Ailey’s first-ever performances, and an expanded reimagining of Revelations. With cameos and kind words delivered by Ailey fans like Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom, Jr., Timothy Shriver (whose own daughter was student at The Ailey School), Angela Bassett, and more, it was a celebration of the dance company’s rich history and a moment of much-needed togetherness in honor of Black Lives Matter.

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The Wall Street Journal - 'Revelations' For Trying Times

Since 2013, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has appeared annually at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. This year is the exception, somewhat. As part of its Ailey All Access series of online presentations, begun March 30 in the wake of the pandemic, the troupe has been working on ways to still offer a June season of a sort. Before the theater shutdown, live performances had been scheduled for June 10 to 14. Instead, starting this Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT, viewers at home will be able to stream a four-part mixed bill, performed on the Koch stage, the was filmed in 2015.

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NPR's Here & Now - Celebrating 'Revelations' In These Times

If life were normal this spring, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater would be on the road performing its annual national tour. They'd be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the company's signature work, “Revelations”, described by The New York Times as “modern dance's unquestionably greatest hit.”