The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (AAADT) was founded in
1958 by the choreographer, dancer and visionary that was Alvin Ailey alongside
7 other African-American modern dancers. Ailey devised the company based on
giving these dancers a place to perform during a period of racial oppression
and slavery. He also aimed to further his pioneering vision of using the beauty
and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite
people of all ages, races and backgrounds through performances, class and
education. Ailey took inspiration for his company from Lester Horton who was
the founder of the first racially integrated dance company and whom Ailey
worked with until he succeeded Horton’s company due to his passing in 1953. The
foundations of Ailey’s movement for the AAADT were taken from Horton and is
evident through lateral stretches, deep plies, turns, kicks, wing-like arms and
splayed hands however Ailey added a constant sense of energy to the movement. Also
adding to Ailey’s contributions towards the company’s movement style and early development
was the influence of modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham. Her content evolved
from manipulation of the torso, shifting through a low centre of gravity and
incorporating floor work to express passion, rage, the emotional inner self and
the contradictions of life through dance. These influences were particularly
evident within Ailey’s most critically acclaimed work “Revelations” in the year
of 1960 which was based upon Ailey’s “blood memories” and experiences of
oppression, fortitude, religious conviction, slavery and fighting for freedom
when growing up during a racially conflicted era within Texas, America. These personal
experiences and movement influences from Ailey can be witnessed in the opening
section known as “I’ve Been Buked” where nine dancers are positioned centre
stage in a tight-knit formation with the smallest female at the front and
tallest male at the back as a tactical form of protection. Ailey dressed the
dancers is colours of the earth; soft beige, brown and ochre to symbolise the
work’s historical context as the group gather under a circular golden pool of
light which shines down from above. Ailey choreographed for the dancers to plant
their feet out in second position with their arms extended downwards in a low
“V” line, the hands splayed, and the head tilted backwards allowing the chest
to be projected and the rich sheen on light to kiss their upper torsos. This
demonstrates Ailey’s intention of God reaching down and touching their souls
and therefore relating back to the works theme and influence of religious
conviction.

Ailey bringing realism and truth to the people through dance
allowed this work to be his most successful piece of rep to this day which
granted both him and his company worldwide recognition from 1960 to the present
day which significantly contributed towards the company’s development. This was
through them being able to demonstrate their work to a wider audience and for
Ailey to go on to win awards such as The Kennedy Centre Award for a lifetime
contribution to American culture (1988). Therefore, not only did Ailey devise the
AAADT, he built the foundations of an extremely unique, successful and well
appreciated dance establishment by creating humanitarian work through the arts.

In the year if 1989 Ailey sadly passed away which left his
company in mourning however in the hope to continue his mission he had chosen
for Judith Jamison to succeed him in the role of Artistic Director of the AAADT.
This was after she had been his muse for many decades as well as her talent and
creativity as a dancer for the AAADT and choreographer for her own repertoire
had inspired him for many of years.

Jamison continued promoting Ailey’s vision to the world and working
on evolving the AAADT through her own works such as “Hymn” in 1993 which was
created as a love letter to Ailey and an opportunity for his company to
celebrate their founder and his life. Contributions like this allowed the
company to expand further as Jamison organised for them to tour the likes of
Cyprus (2003) China and Singapore (2004) and Russia (2005), allowing their work
to be witness by thousands more people. She also aimed to develop the depth of
the company’s repertoire by inviting guest choreographers to create new and
diverse works for the AAADT, one of which was Robert Battle who became a well-established
artist-in-residence for the company from 1999. It was common knowledge that
Battle had a longstanding associating with Ailey’s company and in the year of 2011
Jamison personally selected him for the role of Artistic Director after she had
decided upon retirement and has worked tirelessly to bring the company to unprecedented
success.

During his time as an artist-in-residence Battle created a
work during 2010 called “The Hunt” which was based upon the thrill of a chase
where six athletically built dancers explore the relationship between modern
sport and the rites of the gladiators as Battle incorporates his own martial
arts training into the movement content. Battle combined combative stances and dynamic
elevated leaps to drive the dancer around the stage. Using a thundering
percussion soundtrack, Battle challenged the physical boundaries and emotional endurance
of the unconquerable Ailey dancers. It is evident that he uses the ritualistic
circle known as the “magic circle” to imitate the ritualistic tribal qualities
of the work. The Hunt is a contrasting piece of rep for the AAADT because of
its exhilarating nature due to Battle inflicting his own original perspective
and ideas upon the movement content. This is down to Battle using his own
experiences and knowledge of various genres and sports to choreograph original
content which is similarly to Ailey who used his own encounters as stimuli for
movement and works. This demonstrates that Battle’s approach towards devising
new work is similar Ailey’s, however Battle has allowed the company to evolve
further and expand themselves by performing more varied movement and meanings.

Robert Battle is a well-established choreographer and began
his career with Parsons Dance Company from 1994 to 2001. He also created his
own establishment known as Battleworks Dance Company in 2002 and “The New
Directions Choreography Lab” to help innovative and diverse choreographers to
develop. During 2005 Battle was awarded with a Masters of African-American
Choreography by the Kennedy Centre for a lifetime contribution to American
Culture similarly to Ailey back in 1988. This therefore displays that both
practitioners have produced work which has contributed towards improving
American culture, therefore making Battle a fitting candidate to take over as
lead of the AAADT. This is down to him demonstrating appropriate
characteristics and intensions that he can apply to strive towards Ailey’s desired
goals and fulfil the role of Artistic Director. During 2015, Battle created his
first work, “The Awakening”, as Artistic Director, making it an important work for
the company. The piece was based upon riots that he witnessed as a child in
Liberty City and the uneasy calm that the neighbourhood experienced. He also
took inspiration from his time in church as a chid where a preacher would stand
before the congregation and preach to them which is like when Ailey
incorporated religious aspects into “Revelations”. The piece demonstrates
Battle exploring the idea of a leader being born out of chaos where a community
represent the womb and out of the womb comes the reluctant warrior. The group
clump together in a tight-formation upstage whilst dressed in all white,
similarly to the KKK which Ailey mentioned in his autobiography to have witness
during his younger years in Texas, therefore displaying the fact that these two
practitioners both experience similar situations as they grew up surrounded by
conflict and public rioting. The leader is singled out in front of the group as
he lies on his back with his legs in a hurdle position. He gradually rotates
himself round to face the group to symbolise the fact that he is the preach
stood before his congregation. In numerical variation the congregation stand in
second and suddenly extend their arms diagonally upwards with the hands splayed
whilst following the accompaniment’s staccato rhythm to reveal the group shouting
and being at one into the leader’s word.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (AAADT) was founded in
1958 by the choreographer, dancer and visionary that was Alvin Ailey alongside
7 other African-American modern dancers. Ailey devised the company based on
giving these dancers a place to perform during a period of racial oppression
and slavery. He also aimed to further his pioneering vision of using the beauty
and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite
people of all ages, races and backgrounds through performances, class and
education. Ailey took inspiration for his company from Lester Horton who was
the founder of the first racially integrated dance company and whom Ailey
worked with until he succeeded Horton’s company due to his passing in 1953. The
foundations of Ailey’s movement for the AAADT were taken from Horton and is
evident through lateral stretches, deep plies, turns, kicks, wing-like arms and
splayed hands however Ailey added a constant sense of energy to the movement. Also
adding to Ailey’s contributions towards the company’s movement style and early development
was the influence of modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham. Her content evolved
from manipulation of the torso, shifting through a low centre of gravity and
incorporating floor work to express passion, rage, the emotional inner self and
the contradictions of life through dance. These influences were particularly
evident within Ailey’s most critically acclaimed work “Revelations” in the year
of 1960 which was based upon Ailey’s “blood memories” and experiences of
oppression, fortitude, religious conviction, slavery and fighting for freedom
when growing up during a racially conflicted era within Texas, America. These personal
experiences and movement influences from Ailey can be witnessed in the opening
section known as “I’ve Been Buked” where nine dancers are positioned centre
stage in a tight-knit formation with the smallest female at the front and
tallest male at the back as a tactical form of protection. Ailey dressed the
dancers is colours of the earth; soft beige, brown and ochre to symbolise the
work’s historical context as the group gather under a circular golden pool of
light which shines down from above. Ailey choreographed for the dancers to plant
their feet out in second position with their arms extended downwards in a low
“V” line, the hands splayed, and the head tilted backwards allowing the chest
to be projected and the rich sheen on light to kiss their upper torsos. This
demonstrates Ailey’s intention of God reaching down and touching their souls
and therefore relating back to the works theme and influence of religious
conviction.

Ailey bringing realism and truth to the people through dance
allowed this work to be his most successful piece of rep to this day which
granted both him and his company worldwide recognition from 1960 to the present
day which significantly contributed towards the company’s development. This was
through them being able to demonstrate their work to a wider audience and for
Ailey to go on to win awards such as The Kennedy Centre Award for a lifetime
contribution to American culture (1988). Therefore, not only did Ailey devise the
AAADT, he built the foundations of an extremely unique, successful and well
appreciated dance establishment by creating humanitarian work through the arts.

In the year if 1989 Ailey sadly passed away which left his
company in mourning however in the hope to continue his mission he had chosen
for Judith Jamison to succeed him in the role of Artistic Director of the AAADT.
This was after she had been his muse for many decades as well as her talent and
creativity as a dancer for the AAADT and choreographer for her own repertoire
had inspired him for many of years.

Jamison continued promoting Ailey’s vision to the world and working
on evolving the AAADT through her own works such as “Hymn” in 1993 which was
created as a love letter to Ailey and an opportunity for his company to
celebrate their founder and his life. Contributions like this allowed the
company to expand further as Jamison organised for them to tour the likes of
Cyprus (2003) China and Singapore (2004) and Russia (2005), allowing their work
to be witness by thousands more people. She also aimed to develop the depth of
the company’s repertoire by inviting guest choreographers to create new and
diverse works for the AAADT, one of which was Robert Battle who became a well-established
artist-in-residence for the company from 1999. It was common knowledge that
Battle had a longstanding associating with Ailey’s company and in the year of 2011
Jamison personally selected him for the role of Artistic Director after she had
decided upon retirement and has worked tirelessly to bring the company to unprecedented
success.

During his time as an artist-in-residence Battle created a
work during 2010 called “The Hunt” which was based upon the thrill of a chase
where six athletically built dancers explore the relationship between modern
sport and the rites of the gladiators as Battle incorporates his own martial
arts training into the movement content. Battle combined combative stances and dynamic
elevated leaps to drive the dancer around the stage. Using a thundering
percussion soundtrack, Battle challenged the physical boundaries and emotional endurance
of the unconquerable Ailey dancers. It is evident that he uses the ritualistic
circle known as the “magic circle” to imitate the ritualistic tribal qualities
of the work. The Hunt is a contrasting piece of rep for the AAADT because of
its exhilarating nature due to Battle inflicting his own original perspective
and ideas upon the movement content. This is down to Battle using his own
experiences and knowledge of various genres and sports to choreograph original
content which is similarly to Ailey who used his own encounters as stimuli for
movement and works. This demonstrates that Battle’s approach towards devising
new work is similar Ailey’s, however Battle has allowed the company to evolve
further and expand themselves by performing more varied movement and meanings.

Robert Battle is a well-established choreographer and began
his career with Parsons Dance Company from 1994 to 2001. He also created his
own establishment known as Battleworks Dance Company in 2002 and “The New
Directions Choreography Lab” to help innovative and diverse choreographers to
develop. During 2005 Battle was awarded with a Masters of African-American
Choreography by the Kennedy Centre for a lifetime contribution to American
Culture similarly to Ailey back in 1988. This therefore displays that both
practitioners have produced work which has contributed towards improving
American culture, therefore making Battle a fitting candidate to take over as
lead of the AAADT. This is down to him demonstrating appropriate
characteristics and intensions that he can apply to strive towards Ailey’s desired
goals and fulfil the role of Artistic Director. During 2015, Battle created his
first work, “The Awakening”, as Artistic Director, making it an important work for
the company. The piece was based upon riots that he witnessed as a child in
Liberty City and the uneasy calm that the neighbourhood experienced. He also
took inspiration from his time in church as a chid where a preacher would stand
before the congregation and preach to them which is like when Ailey
incorporated religious aspects into “Revelations”. The piece demonstrates
Battle exploring the idea of a leader being born out of chaos where a community
represent the womb and out of the womb comes the reluctant warrior. The group
clump together in a tight-formation upstage whilst dressed in all white,
similarly to the KKK which Ailey mentioned in his autobiography to have witness
during his younger years in Texas, therefore displaying the fact that these two
practitioners both experience similar situations as they grew up surrounded by
conflict and public rioting. The leader is singled out in front of the group as
he lies on his back with his legs in a hurdle position. He gradually rotates
himself round to face the group to symbolise the fact that he is the preach
stood before his congregation. In numerical variation the congregation stand in
second and suddenly extend their arms diagonally upwards with the hands splayed
whilst following the accompaniment’s staccato rhythm to reveal the group shouting
and being at one into the leader’s word.

Overall
both Ailey and Battle have significantly contributed towards the development of
the AAADT over its many years since being founded by Ailey himself. Ailey being
the figure who set up the establishment with such an intension to widen the
acknowledge of racial and global issues through dance after pondering and
reflecting upon his own personal experiences to create his company’s
repertoire. Then, Battle being the perfect person to continue the company’s progression
into a more modern era. Battle has contributed consistently to the company,
first as an artist-in residence who regulaly choreographed for the Ailey
dancers and now as the Artistic Director of the company who has organised
various performances such as the company’ss return to the Lincoln Centre after
10 years in 2013 and then a UK tour for them in 2016. This therefore developing
the company and increasing its levels of recognition continuously. 

x

Hi!
I'm Katy!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out