Roots of the Blues - Alvin Ailey Dance Company

Roots of the Blues - Alvin Ailey Dance Company

The photograph shows Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theatre in Roots of the Blues. This ballet was Ailey's tribute to the Blues and its place in American black culture, and another example of his drawing on 'blood memories' to create dances. It was a series of short sketches tracing the Blues from the brothels of New Orleans to the speakeasies (shops or bars where alcohol was sold illegally during Prohibition in America) and nightclubs of the 1920s. The setting was very spare - a few chairs, stools, a ladder, a hatstand, but combined with Ves Harper's equally simple yet striking costumes, and stunning lighting and back projections, it created unforgettable stage pictures. Ailey's choreography showed off the individual dancers to perfection. On the company's first visit to London in 1964, it was the work that made audiences realise just how good Ailey's dancers were.