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From Race Crisis to Race Celebration: Online Body Politics and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theateri

From Race Crisis to Race Celebration: Online Body Politics and the Alvin Ailey American Dance... AbstractThroughout the history of the United States, there have been many critical times associated with racism. When other forms of crisis overlap the existing ones – as the Covid-19 pandemic – even more challenges appear, calling for a more complex artistic response. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is well known across the United States and the world not only through their innovative ballet style (which builds on classical choreography and enriches it with creatively processed blues, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean tones), but also through what Thomas F. DeFrantz calls Alvin Ailey’s “embodiment of African American culture” in the subtitle of his book (Dancing Revelations, 2004). This essay looks at Ailey Theater’s politics of the dancing body, with a focus on recent productions included in the Ailey All Access online project, meant to replace a Fall 2021 United States tour that could not take place because of the pandemic. I will argue that the company’s choreographic overcoming and even beautifying sorrow through dance expands Ailey’s healing narrative about African American history to the Covid-19 pandemic. Their recent projects propose a desirable post-racist world, in which those who have been through much sorrow can support those who have been through less, and thus promote a politics of human togetherness, hope, and reconstruction. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American British and Canadian Studies Journal de Gruyter

From Race Crisis to Race Celebration: Online Body Politics and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theateri

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2022 Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, published by Sciendo
ISSN
1841-964X
eISSN
1841-964X
DOI
10.2478/abcsj-2022-0016
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractThroughout the history of the United States, there have been many critical times associated with racism. When other forms of crisis overlap the existing ones – as the Covid-19 pandemic – even more challenges appear, calling for a more complex artistic response. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is well known across the United States and the world not only through their innovative ballet style (which builds on classical choreography and enriches it with creatively processed blues, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean tones), but also through what Thomas F. DeFrantz calls Alvin Ailey’s “embodiment of African American culture” in the subtitle of his book (Dancing Revelations, 2004). This essay looks at Ailey Theater’s politics of the dancing body, with a focus on recent productions included in the Ailey All Access online project, meant to replace a Fall 2021 United States tour that could not take place because of the pandemic. I will argue that the company’s choreographic overcoming and even beautifying sorrow through dance expands Ailey’s healing narrative about African American history to the Covid-19 pandemic. Their recent projects propose a desirable post-racist world, in which those who have been through much sorrow can support those who have been through less, and thus promote a politics of human togetherness, hope, and reconstruction.

Journal

American British and Canadian Studies Journalde Gruyter

Published: Dec 1, 2022

Keywords: African American; ballet; body; celebration; crisis; modern dance; Covid-19 pandemic; performance; politics; spirituals

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