Words from Dic(tionary)
Ailey, Alvin: (1931-89) U.S. dancer and choreographer. He founded the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in 1958 and helped to establish modern dance as an American art form, incorporating ballet, jazz and Afro-Caribbean idioms in his choreography.
Being a writer carries with it a certain amount of arrogance. There is the contention that one has something worthy to be said, and therefore read, and also the annoying predilection to associate everything you hear and see into your own spectrum of thinking.
Yes, it’s truly overbearing.
And when I came across this fine gentleman who was so progressive in the art of dance, because I lacked a lot of personal experience with his work, and fearing that merely taking a journey through Wikipedia to impress you with minor details would be presumptuous, if not comical, I decided to sit down and ask myself what I thought of dance. Realizing that this may be completely irrelevant to you, it is my connection with this journeyman’s craft.
As a lad I didn’t dance at all because my church believed that it was the devil’s two-step. One of the deacons in my congregation insisted that it led to lust. When I explained that at fifteen years of age, merely saying a girl’s name aloud could produce great fantasies and tremblings, he didn’t think I was funny.
So it was after I left home and began working in the music field, and decided to compose a Broadway show that, I began to think about choreography, movement and dance. Matter of fact, for my first production I hired a bunch of freelance musicians and singers to perform–all with an amateur status. Failing to realize that just because someone can sing a tune does not mean their feet will coordinate with each other, on our opening night, one critic deemed our staging and dancing to be “collisionography.”
Later on, I tried choreographing myself. Even though I am built more like a water buffalo than a graceful deer, I pranced around stage, learning my steps, acting as fluid as I possibly could, trying to discover my “center,” which ended up being very large because of my midriff.
But I enjoyed every minute of it.
I was thrilled with the audacity of daring to erupt in front of other people, while projecting emotion and ideas through the gyrations.
So when I look at the work of a man like Alvin Ailey, I realize that even though some folks think such shenanigans are evil, despicable or lascivious, life without movement–often purposeful–is bland and motionless.
Matter of fact, there are times when I have jobs to do and I choreograph every single endeavor to produce desirable results.
We come into this world, squeezing through a tiny opening, landing on our butts, learning to walk, so that hopefully … someday we can dance.