A NEW GENERATION OF AILEY DANCERS
“Rev” is the nickname given by the Alvin Ailey dancers to the one piece they could all probably dance with their eyes closed. Revelations, set to traditional spirituals and gospel music, was choreographed by Ailey in 1960 and has been performed by the company at practically every engagement, in every city, all over the world, since 1962. Audiences never seem to tire of seeing this action-packed and uplifting piece, but how do the dancers manage to do it thousands of times?
“That’s what I wanted to know,” said Jacqueline Green, who is in her first year with Ailey II, the junior company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Ailey II appears at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 5. Green recently spoke with Pasatiempo from Oregon, where the company was performing. When Ailey II puts on Revelations in Santa Fe, Green will be taking the part made famous by company artistic director, Judith Jamison — that is, the dancer with the umbrella in the “Wade in the Water” section.
“Of all the solos in the dance, that was the one I dreamed about doing,” Green said. “I’ve heard that the way Ms. Jamison moved was like water. She made her body ripply. Her back was fluid. She was guiding the other dancers into the river by becoming like water.”
The good thing about a piece like Revelations, at least for the 12 up-and-coming dancers of the second company, is that there are a lot of veterans around to answer questions. Many first company members — and former members — teach classes and coach the young dancers at the Ailey studios, and others are around schools in New York City offering advice. The “umbrella dancer” was designed to be the overseer of a baptism, guiding people into the water. “That’s me. I’m that way with my friends. I’m like the mother. I’m a natural in that part,” Green said.
Another section in Revelations features the spiritual “Fix Me, Jesus.” It was veteran company member Dudley Williams who told Green that the dance was actually a duet between a woman and a male figure representing God. “The female never looks at the male in that part,” she said. “But the male is always there to catch her when she starts to fall. It makes sense. I like that interpretation.”