Geography Curriculum for Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

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Geography Curriculum for Alvin Ailey’s Revelations


One of the first racially integrated dance companies, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater gained the nickname "Cultural Ambassador to the World" because of its extensive international touring. AADT has provided cherished dance experiences for more 23 million people in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents, including two historic residencies in South Africa. Ailey's choreographic masterpiece Revelations is believed to be the best-known and most often seen modern dance performance.
Themes: Rural, Urban, Regional changes, Economics, Politics, Society, Cultural growth,

Historic timeline, Global connections


  • Tradition

  • Identity

    • Inclusivity

    • Ancestry

    • Cultural ambassadors


  1. What kind of rural/urban contrasts would influence and be expressed in the spirituals of African Americans?

  1. What experience did the Ailey Company share with the world during its global travels?

  1. What historical events have created stronger global connections?

CONNECTIONS: Find the historical influences that created the “blood memories,” which is the basis of Revelations
African Diaspora

Over a period of almost four centuries, four million Africans were transported to North America and the Caribbean Islands in the Atlantic slave trade, the largest forced migration in the world. Captured from their homeland and separated from their tribes and families they were enslaved in a new world, where all familiar customs were absent. The African Diaspora is the story of how Africans, though scattered and dispersed, managed to retain their traditions and reform their identities in a new world. Africans were shipped from many regions of Africa but mostly from those areas along the coast. The Bantu, along the Guinea coast had largest homogenous culture followed by the Mande, thus the culture of African-Americans was influenced the most by the people of these regions.

Capturing History - How do artists effectively relate historic events?

Summary - Through teacher-guided discussions and hands-on activities, students will understand the political and economic reasons for the African-American migration to Northern cities between the World Wars. They will discover the similarities and/or differences of life experiences in the South and the North through research, photographs, and artwork, as well as examine how these changes affected African-American life.


Mapping the Ailey Experience - International Ambassadors of American Culture

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958, at the 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association in New York. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The company has earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

1960 - Alvin Ailey's Masterpiece Revelations Is Born

  • Alvin Ailey choreographs his classic masterpiece Revelations, which brings the Company international acclaim. LINK:

1962 - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Goes On International Tour

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is chosen to go on an extensive tour to the Far East, Southeast Asia and Australia as part of President John F. Kennedy’s progressive “President’s Special International Program for Cultural Presentations.”

1966 - Ailey Performs in Inaugural Arts Festival in Senegal

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater participates in the first Negro Arts Festival in Dakar, Senegal.

1967 - Ailey Embarks On 10-Country African Tour

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater embarks on a two-and-a-half month, 10 country tour of Africa for the State Department.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs at the Rio de Janeiro International Arts Festival.

1968 - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Performs At The White House

  • Ballet Folklorico performs Revelations for the opening ceremonies of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. This becomes the only performance of Revelations by a company other than Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater or Ailey II.

1970 - Ailey Goes On Landmark USSR Tour

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s second State Department-sponsored tour of North Africa and Europe.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater goes on a six-week tour of the USSR—the first for an American modern dance company since the days of Isadora Duncan. The Washington Post reports that the Company was kept onstage for 20 minutes of curtain calls after a sold-out opening night performance at Moscow’s Variety Theater.

  • Alvin Ailey is awarded the Gold Star for Best Modern Dance Company and Best Modern Dance Choreographer at the 1970 International Dance Festival.

1978 - Ailey Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gives its fabled “midnight performance” for the Crown Prince of Morocco. Yielding to the Crown Prince’s insistence that the Company celebrates the new year with him, the dancers do not actually perform until 3a.m., following a full Moroccan New Year feast.

1982 - Alvin Ailey American Dance Center Receives Accreditation

  • Alvin Ailey receives the United Nations Peace Medal.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Center is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance and is now authorized to enroll non-immigrant alien students.

1983 - Alvin Ailey Choreographs Precipice

1985 - Ailey Commences Groundbreaking Tour of China

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is the first modern dance company to go on a U.S. government-sponsored tour of the People’s Republic of China since the normalization of Sino-American relations.

1985 - Ailey Company mourns the founder’s untimely death

  • A roster of who's who in dance pays tribute to him at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Judith Jamison is named the AAADT's artistic director on December 20. She pledges to "keep Mr. Ailey's legacy alive." LINK: Judith Jamison Interview -

1990 - Judith Jamison's Forgotten Time Enters the Ailey Repertory

  • The Company makes a triumphant return to Russia.

1992 - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Performs Shelter

  • Dance Magazine calls the Ailey company “recession-proof” because of its strong financial status and continually sold-out performances worldwide.

  • The Company performs for the first time at the Paris Opera.

1996 - Ailey Performs at the Atlanta Olympic Games

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

1997 - Ailey Embarks On Historic Residency in South Africa

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater embarks on a historic residency in South Africa, following the lifting of the international cultural boycott. The event is covered by Time Magazine and The New York Times.

1998 - Ailey Performs at Time Magazine's 75th Anniversary Gala

  • Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble travels to Cuba.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater makes a triumphant return to South Africa.

2001 - Judith Jamison Creates Commissioned Ballet for 2002 Olympic Arts Festival

  • During Ailey’s engagement in Paris, France, Deputy Mayor Pierre Schapira presents Judith Jamison with the Vermeille Medal, the City of Paris’ highest award.

2002 - Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Breaks Ground on Its New Home

  • Judith Jamison carries the Olympic torch in Salt Lake City, UT prior to the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Jamison’s HERE…NOW. at the Olympic Arts Festival.

  • President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush award the distinguished National Medal of Arts to both Judith Jamison and Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation.

  • Judith Jamison is honored by the National Theatre of Ghana and The National Dance Company of Ghana. In recognition of her great achievement in the arts, she is named Naa (Queen Mother) Akuyea Shika.

2003 - Ailey Celebrates Its 45th Anniversary

  • Members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform at a White House State Dinner honoring the President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki.

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs for the first time in Cyprus, where American Embassy officials praise the Company as “superb ambassadors for the USA and for the artistic spirit that brightens our lives and erases the shadows.”

  • Ailey II performs for an audience of 4,500 as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival.

  • On October 1, Ms. Jamison is recognized by Essence Magazine as one of 50 women who are shaping our world.

  • As part of its annual ranking of the 100 Best Charities in the country, Worth magazine recognizes Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation as one of the top arts organizations in the United States.

2004 - U.S. Postal Service Issues Postage Stamp Honoring Alvin Ailey

  • The United States Postal Service issues a first class postage stamp honoring Alvin Ailey. The American Choreographers series commemorates four visionary 20th century choreographers—Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Agnes DeMille and Martha Graham—who left a profound mark on the language of dance.

  • Under the sponsorship of Citigroup, the Company offers performances, outreach activities and master classes in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore.

2005 - Ailey Celebrates the Opening of The Joan Weill Center for Dance

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Russia after an absence of 15 years as the only American company to perform in the Stars of the White Nights Festival. The engagement marks the first time a modern dance company is presented at the legendary Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

2006 - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Archives Donated to the Library of Congress

  • On February 8, a ceremony in Washington, DC commemorates the donation of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Archives to the Library of Congress.

  • On July 3, the Company embarks on a three-week run at the Le Etés de la danse de Paris. In response to overwhelming demand, the Company’s engagement is extended for three additional performances.

2010 - Judith Jamison and Ailey Honored at Reception Hosted by Vice President Biden

  • Judith Jamison is the 2010 recipient of The Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.

  • On April 28, choreographer Robert Battle is named Artistic Director Designate, to succeed Judith Jamison upon her transition to Artistic Director Emerita in June 2011

Lesson includes edited selections and inserts from Artsedge,PBS/Great Performances/Free to Dance website & YouTube resources

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