Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name



African-American Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel O. Black

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary A. Twining


Dance pioneer, Alvin Ailey, created a dance legacy when he choreographed Revelations in 1960. By using Revelations as the foundation for this study, this thesis reveals ways in which Ailey uses the human body to communicate expressions of the Black aesthetic. African-American dance has always been viewed as a form of entertainment. The research gathered presents African-American dance as an art form that suggests the cultural beauty of African Americans. This thesis details the life and achievements of Ailey. It explains what influenced Ailey to choreograph Revelations. This research also analyzes the emphasis of the dancing body in relation to African- American experiences. The African Dance theory and ten characteristics of African Dance are utilized to present expressive behaviors that display the Black aesthetic. The expressive behaviors presented are body gestures/movements, music, and costuming. From these cultural expressions and the African Dance theory, the researcher determines what makes Ailey unique in the modem dance tradition. This thesis allows for future research of other African-American choreographers and how their choreographic pieces give insight into the African-American experience.

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