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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Town & Country - Amazing Grace - Still, We Dance: An Ode To The Deliverance And Joy Of Self-Expression

Every year, in theaters and concert halls around the globe, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater takes audiences to church. Not just any house of worship, but the working-class, Black, Southern temples of rural Texas. The gospel they see and feel is Revelations, the company's signature dance, which has been staged more often than the troupe's other celebrated works, for some 25 million fans. This year Revelations turns 60, and it has lost none of its incantatory power. Against the back-drop of both a global pandemic that disproportionately ravages communities of color and the urgency of social justice movements including Black Lives Matter, Ailey's valentine to the spirituals of his youth is its own call to action, an ode to the deliverance of self-expression in the face of adversity.

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Texas Monthly - How Alvin Ailey's 'Revelations' Has Helped Me Find My Way Back To Texas

One warm spring day in the late nineties, I walked hand in hand with my father as he led our family— my mom, my three siblings, and me—into Houston’s Jones Hall for an Alvin Ailey performance. At eight years old, I was more excited to be wearing my new theater dress for all of Houston to see than I was for the show itself. But that excitement quickly evolved into wonder. I don’t recall the name of the performance we saw, but I distinctly remember feeling admiration and reverence for what the dancers were doing in front of me. Before that day, I’d never seen such a large group of professional Black dancers on stage. Experiencing this performance in my youth was significant; it told me that my people were everywhere, and capable of doing everything.