Dancing Revelations by Thomas F. DeFrantz
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Dancing Revelations
By Thomas F. DeFrantz

Dancing Revelations

Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture

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Format: Paperback

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Dancing Revelations by Thomas F. DeFrantz

Book Awards

  • Winner of Society of Dance History Scholars de la Torre Bueno Prize 2004.

Book Description

In the early 1960s, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was a small, multi-racial company of dancers that performed the works of its founding choreographer and other emerging artists. By the late 1960s, the company had become a well-known African American artistic group closely tied to the Civil Rights struggle. In Dancing Revelations, Thomas DeFrantz chronicles the troupe's journey from a small modern dance company to one of the premier institutions of African American culture. He not only charts this rise to national and international renown, but also contextualizes this progress within the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights struggles of the late 20th century. DeFrantz examines the most celebrated Ailey dances, including Revelations, drawing on video recordings of Ailey's dances, published interviews, oral histories, and his own interviews with former Ailey company dancers. Through vivid descriptions and beautiful illustrations, DeFrantz reveals the relationship between Ailey's works and African American culture as a whole. He illuminates the dual achievement of Ailey as an artist and as an arts activist committed to developing an African American presence in dance. He also addresses concerns about how dance performance is documented, including issues around spectatorship and the display of sexuality, the relationship of Ailey's dances to civil rights activism, and the establishment and maintenance of a successful, large-scale Black Arts institution. Throughout Dancing Revelations, DeFrantz illustrates how Ailey combined elements of African dance with motifs adapted from blues, jazz, and Broadway to choreograph his dances. By re-interpreting these tropes of black culture in his original and well-received dances, DeFrantz argues that Ailey played a significant role in defining the African American cultural canon in the twentieth century. As the first book to examine the cultural sources and cultural impact of Ailey's work, Dancing Revelations is an important contribution to modern dance history and criticism as well as African-American studies.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780195301717
ISBN-10: 0195301714
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 153mm x 18mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 2-Mar-2006
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Thomas F. DeFrantz

Dance by Thomas F. DeFrantz Dance, Hardback (March 2016)

A landmark examination of the art and artists inspired by American dance from 1830 to 1960

Black Performance Theory by Thomas F. DeFrantz Black Performance Theory, Paperback (May 2014)

Black performance theory is a rich interdisciplinary area of study and critical method. In this collection of new essays, some of its pioneering thinkers demonstrate the breadth and depth, innovation, and critical value of black performance theory.

Dancing Many Drums by Thomas F. DeFrantz Dancing Many Drums, Paperback (March 2002)

This volume explores the influence of African American music on world culture. It brings together issues of race, gender, politics, history and dance, includes discussions of dance instruction songs, the blues aesthetic, and Katherine Dunham's controversial ballet about lynching, "Southland".

» View all books by Thomas F. DeFrantz


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Author Biography - Thomas F. DeFrantz

Thomas DeFrantz earned degrees from Yale, the City University of New York, and the Performance Studies Department of New York University. He organized the dance history program at the Ailey School, and is editor of Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance. His writings have appeared in the Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History, and the Village Voice. Also a performer and choreographer, DeFrantz has taught at NYU and Stanford University. He is currently Associate Professor of Theater Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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