Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe Performing 60th Anniversary Celebration At Mesa Arts Center

By Kaely Monahan, Mark Brodie, Steve Goldstein
Published: Friday, March 29, 2019 - 12:13pm
Updated: Friday, March 29, 2019 - 3:34pm

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Alvin Ailey.
Normand Maxon
Alvin Ailey.

You would probably recognize the songs from the African-American spiritual "Wade In the Water." It's also one of the uplifting pieces in a dance called “Revelations” choreographed by modern dance choreographer Alvin Ailey.

“Revelations” along with several other pieces will be making up the energizing 60th Anniversary performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater troupe this weekend at the Mesa Arts Center.

One of the dancers performing in the troupe is Arizona’s own Clifton Brown. Ever since he was a small child, Clifton says he knew he had to dance.  

"I always considered dance to be my first language," said Brown. "For me my experience is, I did it from the time I was very young, and I became more comfortable with dancing than kinda speaking and being social when I was a kid."

Brown first joined the Alvin Ailey troupe in 1999. The company started off as a small group of African American dancers in 1958 in New York City, but the company quickly grew in size and popularity, and the founder, Alvin Ailey, became one of the great choreographers of modern dance.

Now after six decades, the dance company is celebrating both African American dance history and the indomitable human spirit. Brown said that the whole performance is full of high energy and emotion. Audiences can expect to see classics from Alvin Ailey’s repertoire and new pieces by younger choreographers. Brown said it really is something that must be seen to be understood.

"Some things aren’t translatable," he said. "Some things are just a feeling that are expressed through physicality. And I think that’s in life too. Some times words fall short; some things are expressed better through your proximity to someone in a room where you’re body language may speak more than what your words are actually saying. And I think that dance is just an extension of that."

You can see Brown and the rest of the Alvin Ailey dancers Friday and Saturday at the Mesa Arts Center.

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