Revelations How-To

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's most recognizable work is Ailey's Revelations—a masterpiece that's been performed continuously since its premiere in 1960. Sylvia Waters, former artistic director of Ailey II, coached AAADT dancer Fana Tesfagiorgis through the opening steps of the haunting first section, “I Been 'Buked."

(Rosalie O'Connor)

About Revelations: “Alvin was inspired by his own memories, and the piece is an homage to our ancestors and to all of humankind," Waters says. “It's a testament to the power of the language of dance."

See It in Action: This section doesn't rely solely on counts, and Horton technique—the foundation of Ailey's choreography—is extremely specific. So before trying out the phrase, watch our video of Fana Tesfagiorgis and Sylvia Waters breaking down each step with the music. All photos by Kyle Froman.

Stand in a wide second position, with your arms held out slightly from your body and your palms facing forward. Look upward, so your chin points toward the ceiling.

As the choir starts to sing, begin to roll your head back and to the right. Plié, reaching your right arm in a long downward diagonal away from your body, and draw your left hand upward along your rib cage.

As soon as you reach the bottom of your plié, begin to straighten your arms and legs, passing through the starting position before repeating the same movements to the left side.

When you get to the bottom of your second plié, reach your right hand toward the ceiling, continuing to look down past your left fingers. As soon as your right arm is straight, move back to standing by initiating the lift from the right side of your rib cage and sliding your right foot in to meet your left foot in a parallel first position.

Bring your left elbow in to your side and straighten your legs completely. Next, reach your left hand overhead to meet your right hand and look upward.

Lean forward and to the right—bending slightly at the waist—and trace two clockwise circles above your head. Keep your gaze on your hands. End with your hands above your head.

Bend your elbows and bring your arms down to chest level, cupping your hands as you gaze toward them. Hold your right hand slightly below your left.

Slowly plié and begin to tilt forward into a flat-back position, crossing your right arm in front of your left. When you reach the bottom of your plié, tendu your left foot to the side, keeping your leg parallel. Raise your arms to resemble wings—slightly bent at the elbows, with the palms facing down.

Slowly draw your left leg in so you're standing on both legs, maintaining your flat-back position. Leading with your fingers, scoop your arms inward as if gathering something in toward your chest.

Simultaneously straighten your legs and flip your forearms so that they are perpendicular to your body. Straighten your arms overhead and reach your fingers and chin toward the ceiling. Finish the phrase by extending your palms toward the audience.

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search