Our final picture of Black American dance will use the history of Alvin Ailey as its main source and interject jazz and hip hop from today’s styles of Black dance. Alvin Ailey was another strong modern dancer who used Black themes and situations for his noted choreography. Much of what we intend to do with this unit has already been done by Ailey albeit the initial “living pictures”. Ailey had a rough young childhood marked with poverty and poor conditions. His choreography successfully portrays all that he saw and was involved in during that time.
During the 1960’s he collaborated with Carmen De Lavallade and later formed the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Though the company was initially all Black, he later integrated his company and further dispelled racist attitudes about Whites, Blacks, and Asians performing jazz and modern styles as well as about Blacks performing ballet. Ailey’s company is famous throughout the world and has indeed traveled extensively. He also created a star out of Judith Jamison, a great dancer who became Alvin Ailey’s principal dancer with the company. She is now the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, a successful dance school with three famous dance companies in New York.
Fortunately there are many videos and pictures to draw upon for this final dance. We will integrate all dance styles (ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz, and African), the way Ailey did when he considered and worked out his choreography. We will also plan a trip Alvin Ailey’s school in New York for a modern jazz dance class. This should help our choreography shape up to a befitting finale for our video.
I would like to introduce a movie
Nothing But A Man
, during this time as well. The movie depicts a Black man who moves back south after his dreams of a different life are not realized in the north. Though his father was not there for him when he grew up he tries to be better and discontinue the vicious cycle. Though he encounters prejudice and poor conditions he rises above to do what must be done to care for his family. After viewing this movie, I was determined to show it to my students (with my males especially), so that they can see how this man overcomes his problems but does not compromise his remaining a man.
This movie will help to enhance our finale dance as well as show my students how they can maintain a certain living expectation in America whether they become rich, middle class, or remain poor as many of them are. I want them to feel uplifted after reading about their history through dance without feeling as if they are victims who will remain at the bottom of society’s totem pole.