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The Ailey company's visionary namesake was a posthumous Kennedy Center honoree in 1989. Today, it's led by Artistic Director Robert Battle (below), an important choreographer in his own right. Ailey, who founded the company in 1958 and died in 1989, drew inspiration for Revelations from his experience growing up in rural Texas and attending a Baptist church. “I’m a black man whose roots are in the sun and the dirt of the South,” he said in an ������������������ �������������������� ���������� ���� ���������� �������� ������- memorating the work’s 50th anniversary. The half-hour dance suite, which Celia Wren of The Washington Post calls “a dramatic journey from sorrow and longing to joy,” is presented in three sections and is set to 10 powerful African-American spirituals and gospel songs, from “I Been ’Buked” to “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” �������� ���������� ������������������ ������������������ ������ ������������������ ����- ments the burdens of life, as dancers stretch their arms skyward. The second, “Take Me to the Water,” explores the purifying sig- ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ Members, Move,” celebrates the unshakable faith of “ladies on a Sunday morning with fans and hats at a country church,” ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� part of my blood memory,” he said. Ailey, who created 79 works for his dancers, received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1988. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� during the height of African-Americans’ strug- 46 artsLife | FALL 2016 gle for civil rights, its message of hope still resonates, both in the U.S. and in the 70 other nations where it has been performed. Robert Battle, the company’s artistic director since 2011, says that a performance of Revelations in Miami persuaded him to pursue a life in dance. “Seeing Revelations in some ways was everything that I already knew growing up — overcoming adversity of some type.” Battle, 43, grew up in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, and attended that city’s New World School of the Arts and then New York’s Juilliard School before embarking on a career as a dancer and choreographer. Three of Battle's own ballets — No Longer Silent, Awakening and The Hunt — are now part of the Ailey repertory. He has also showcased the work of other leading-edge PHOTOS BY ANDREW ECCLES


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