Rachael Devecka Cultural Commentary: Alvin Ailey

The performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was incredible! There are many aspects I could write about, but since we covered most of them in Professor Bory’s unit, I would like to focus on what it felt like to be present and among the audience. I attended the second night of Alvin Ailey’s stay in Charlotte, so the dances I saw included En (a modern piece themed around a clock’s movement) and Cry (performed by a Charlotte native). My favorite part of the performance, however, was unquestionably the classic Revelations. The piece reached the audience on a spiritual level, jubilantly celebrating African American culture and resilience while reflecting on the positive and negative influences that led to its creation. While I could analyze it and find rich material, its beauty was partly that I didn’t need to: the dance was so emotional and cathartic. By the end of the show, everyone was on their feet singing, clapping, and swaying along. According to the way I was raised, the performance is for the performers and the audience’s task is to politely watch. I’ve never felt called to join in a performance before, and am usually embarrassed when actors shout for audience participation. But, when the dancers performed a Move Members Move encore, I was on my feet, unabashedly clapping with everyone else, and it would have felt disrespectful for me not to do so.

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