Alvin Ailey: Cry Essay

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Alvin Ailey: Cry
When Alvin Ailey’s Cry premiered in 1971, Judith Jamison was praised for her tour-de- force 16-minute solo. An original New York Times review expressed that “She looks like an African goddess”. Cry - originally a gift for Ailey’s mother - was dedicated to “all black women everywhere, especially our mothers”. This work, one of Ailey’s greatest successes, evokes an emotional journey, as the performance depicts the struggles of African American women suffering the extraordinary hardships of slavery. Through self- determination, these women overcome their tribulations to attain justice and emancipation. [insert argument here]
Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) grew up in a time of racial segregation, discrimination and violence against
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Despite the importance of the movement vocabulary, Ailey expresses that “Cry is about the dance and the dancer”. Therefore, the expression and emotion that Deborah Manning projects are equally important to facilitate the audience’s reception of the full significance of the work; The difficult time of emotional and and physical struggles for the African Americans.
The journey of Cry is driven by three expressive intentions. The accompaniment in Cry is divided into sections that complement the A,B,C formal structure. For example, section one creates images of slavery, hardship and the struggle that the African American women experienced. Ailey has incorporated a length of fabric into the work to create symbolic meaning and imagery. Section one starts with Manning standing, overlaid with her white leotard and skirt, holding the while fabric to the sky. Manning slowly lowers the fabric, holding it out in front of her as she walks toward the front of the stage to place the fabric center front on the floor. Manning the tosses one end of the fabric to the side then sharply contracts to the side with her arm bent over her head, to then gently caress the material. This is then repeated on the other side. This change in dynamics and sharp angles shows her pain and fatigue as she is forced into labour. Manning creates images with the material as she scrubs the floor and ties herself down, standing on the ends of the material with it wrapped

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