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

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Announces Programming For New York City Center Season December 1-19, 2021

NEW YORK – August 11, 2021 — Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Center’s Principal Dance Company and America’s beloved cultural ambassador to the world, returns to the stage for a much-anticipated annual season in their “home” theater December 1–19, 2021. Marking a decade of leading the Company forward, Artistic Director Robert Battle will present Ailey’s renowned artists in a diverse repertory of premieres, new productions and Ailey classics. The repertory features two world premieres adapted from video to stage by Robert Battle and Ailey Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts as well as four new productions.

Ailey All Access Premieres Juneteenth Program Sponsored By Amazon On June 16

New York, NY – June 11, 2021 – The Ailey organization continues to inspire and enlighten millions across the globe with free broadcasts of performances, conversations, Ailey Extension dance and fitness classes, and more. In observance of Juneteenth, Ailey All Access will present a program of conversation and dance, speaking to the enduring power of the human spirit and extending Alvin Ailey’s legacy of artistic activism.

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.

Featured Press Coverage

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San Francisco Chronicle - Review: Power Of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Virtual Return To Berkeley Rivals A Live Performance

Eavesdrop pre-curtain at Bay Area dance shows and you’ll hear audience members sharing their top dance memories. High on almost everyone’s list? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at UC Berkeley. The company first visited the campus in 1960, two years after its founding, and has come back every year since. And neither Artistic Director Robert Battle nor Cal Performances’ leader Jeremy Geffen were about to let that Bay Area bond lapse in a pandemic, so the dancers have returned virtually in a streaming program that does an astonishing job of relaying their in-person power. The performance premieres Thursday, June 10, with a digital “watch party,” and will be available for streaming through Sept. 8.

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Dance Informa - Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs Offers 'Revelations' Virtual Dance Workshop Series

Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs has announced an inspiring new virtual series that expands available Remote Learning Activities for schools and organizations looking for alternatives to in-person dance classes and residencies, supplements to physical education offerings, or to provide an engaging extracurricular activity for students. Launching during Black History Month as Alvin Ailey’s signature American masterpiece Revelations marks six decades, Revelations Virtual Dance Workshop Series furthers Ailey’s mission of using dance to inspire, enlighten and entertain people of all backgrounds and ages.

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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.