- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2005

“Revelations”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

Kennedy Center Opera House

Today through Sunday

THE PLOT — “Revelations” doesn’t tell a story; it’s a suite of dances that sprang from Mr. Ailey’s great love of spirituals. The singing he heard growing up in rural southern Texas was a comfort in his hardscrabble life. He reflected this in the plaintive “I Been ‘Buked” of the opening, through the exuberant “Wade in the Water” to the hard-driving “Sinner Man.” He captured the spirit of his childhood’s gospel church in the rousing “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”

THE COMPANY — Ailey dancers are irresistible. Their sleek, highly trained bodies project tremendous energy, and their humanity shines through in the generosity of their performance.

THE HISTORY — When Mr. Ailey first presented “Revelations,” in 1960, it was an hour and a half long. A year later, he cut it to 30 minutes, and it became a mega-success. It’s been named the most popular dance work of the 20th century, estimated to have played to more people, in more places, than any other. In the early days, as few as five dancers performed in it; now there are 18 in the finale alone.

WHY SHOULD I GO? — If you haven’t seen it, to learn what all the fuss is about; if you have, to revisit an old favorite the company keeps ever-fresh. “Revelations” never fails to produce a standing ovation that leads to an encore. Part of the fun is being in an audience that knows the dance intimately and roars with delight when the opening notes of music introduce a favorite section.

Jean Battey Lewis


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