Blood Memories, Spirit Dances

  • Brenda Dixon Gottschild


In a commercially distributed video of his company made in 1986 by Thomas Grimm, Alvin Ailey alludes to the concept of “blood memories” as he introduces his most famous choreography Revelations (1960). Here is what he says:

“The first ballets [that I choreographed] were ballets about my black roots. I lived in Texas … until I was 12 … so I have lots of what I call blood memories … about Texas, blues and spirituals and gospel music, ragtime music … folk songs, work songs—all that kind of thing that was going on in Texas in the early ’30s, the Depression years. And I had very intense feelings about all those things. So the first ballets that I made when I came to New York were based on those feelings. … [As for Revelations,] all of this is a part of my blood memory: my uncles, my family, my mother, all were in these churches … very intense, very personal [stuff].”


Hand Gesture Gate Keeper Pentecostal Church Dance Form Africanist Worldview 
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© Brenda Dixon Gottschild 2003

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  • Brenda Dixon Gottschild

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