Revelations

By Alex

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Photo by Jane

I have always been a crier.

It’s not like I’m a huge crybaby or something, but I physically cannot hold in my feelings to save my life. I cry when I’m angry or frustrated. I cry during confrontation. I cry when I see my mom cry. I cry when I’m stressed out. But I had never cried because a movie or a book or a piece of artwork or beauty moved something in me, until January 30, 2012.

I was four years old the first time I donned a tutu and performed in the slightly rundown Guerry Auditorium, and my parents still tease me for being possibly the tiniest human that has ever set foot on that stage. As I continued to dance all through elementary and middle school, the absolute highlight of my entire year was the spring weekend that I performed in a yearly dance recital in front of my family and friends. Performance was addicting for me. I couldn’t get enough of the adrenaline, the camaraderie between myself and the other dancers, and the flowers that my parents secretly bought for me and then gave to me after the show.

The only aspect of those weekends that I cherished more than actually being on stage was watching the annual dance performance at my hometown’s local university. The dance company was called Perpetual Motion, and I was hopelessly obsessed. The college dancers were my idols. I firmly believe that my endless little girl fantasies about one day having the chance to audition and possibly become a part of Perpetual Motion were the fuel to my fiery motivation to continue dancing, no matter how frustratingly busy I became, or how stressed out I was when I realized during puberty that my body would never allow me to seriously pursue dance later on in life.

While I was in eighth grade, my lifelong fantasy became a reality, and Perpetual Motion welcomed me into the family that would become my primary source of happiness during high school. I learned how to be creative, how to improve, how to learn from example, and how to express myself.

It was in January 2012 that my dance education reached an all-time high. A troupe from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, arguably the most famous modern dance company in the country, came to my tiny hometown to perform on the stage that I have been dancing on since I was four years old. It isn’t often that a dancer can say that she has gotten ready in the same dressing room, waited in the same wings, and danced on the same stage as the raw, superhuman talent of people such as Solomon Dumas and Paige Fraser. In particular, seeing Revelations, the most widely known modern dance piece in the world, was truly transformative. Using African-American spiritual and gospel songs, it captures both the most joyful and sorrow-ridden places of the soul and after watching this cultural treasure performed on the stage that has witnessed so much of my personal and artistic growth, I just had to cry. It was so beautiful and impossible that there was nothing to say.

The original choreography of Revelations originated in the 1960s and has been passed on to so many dancers over the years in a continuous cycle of teaching and learning. And last spring, I became one of them. During my senior year, in my fifth and final Perpetual Motion performance, I, along with a group of other girls danced a segment of Revelations on the stage at Guerry Auditorium. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to an art form that has carried me through most of my life.

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