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Alvin Ailey’s dancing characteristics seen through Michel Foucault’s theory - focused on the analysis of Revelations (1962)

이은주 1

1성균관대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper researched characteristics of Ailey’s dancing in the light of Foucault’s hypothesis who offered the theoretical framework; ‘a dancing body reflects and produces power and a culture.’ On the basis of this theory, firstly, the Ailey’s dancing characteristic is an emphasis on physical features through black people’s unique movements, which are the gestures of resistance. He put the black people to the fore in the dance world and established their identity. Secondly, it is faithful to the traditional gender roles of male and female. As the characteristics are expressed through the formation of dancers and their choreographs, and costumes and props, racial discrimination is expressed while at the same time double discrimination against women is inherent. One has to be reminded that the primary factor that made Revelations successful is the reflection of the traditional gender roles of male and female. Thirdly, it is the universality. The work of Ailey investigated the human experience among African Americans in the 1950s from the standpoint of universality and reflected it on the American society and its cultural life. This characteristic of Ailey’s dance well explains the Foucault’s theory; ‘a dancing body reflects and produces power and a culture’. In that generation, Ailey did modern dance based on folk dances, and it already contained racial and social ideologies in movements, themselves along with a double standard of black and white. Therefore, Ailey’s dance has to be understood in that social context. As he expressed various signs of political resistance, a musical ability and religious description through bodily movements, he endured the social injustice and furthermore conceptualized it as the dance document of the American culture. Here, the achievement of establishing the artistic world and the values through his works will shine.

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