Alvin Ailey: Cry Essay

1154 words 5 pages
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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Through the use of a versatile prop, dynamics and imagery, Ailey portrays labour, slavery and suffering and the plight of the African American women.
The second section, danced with wonderful and dramatic sensibility to Laura Nyro’s “Been on a Train”, portrays helplessness, desperation and sadness. Accents are used as Manning’s movement marries the faint, piano and vocal accompaniment. Ailey uses stillness as an accent, with straight and angular lines to unite the movement and strong chords played by the piano. Manning reaches diagonally, with strong parallel arms, to the sky and contracts her torso with her arms bent into her left hip to reach up and sharply contract again. Manning then escapes the position with a double attitude turn and is then cemented into another straight and angular position. These changing dynamics and shapes show the contrast between restraint and freedom faced by African American women. Ailey has incorporated embodied movement in Cry to expand the emotional projection. For instance, Manning mimics the scream heard in “Been on a Train” as she throws herself to the floor, depicting the shattering of built-up emotions. Through a merging of accompaniment and movement, Ailey has experimented with different ways of presenting the intent and explored the emotional

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