Revelations of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is the third act on March 14th Cal performance. It tells the story of African American faith and tenacity from slavery to freedom through its performances. It includes three parts: Pilgrim of Sorrow”, “Take Me to the Water” and “Move, Members, Move”. As a non-religious man, I always find a true faith fascinating. It’s a slight hope buried deep within the hopelessness, that keeps them stand as the pains are bending their knees.
What I remembered the most in the first part is the quiet and soft singing of “Fix me, Jesus.” I think a good piece of art doesn’t necessarily need all the audiences, but a piece with audience can’t be a bad art piece. As a stranger, whether it is to religions, to art, or to this part of the history, the singing still touches me deep inside. It is a cry, a call for help, a mix of the hopelessness of today and the hope we have for tomorrow. Pleasure and pain are the feelings that we all share. In philosophy, the paradox of hedonism even suggests that all we look for at the end is pleasure and to avoid pain. The singing finds my experience of pain and struggles of life and struck a chord. Even though it is ridiculous to compare the struggles of a college student, or of anyone, to the struggles of the African American communities. But it is the things we share that bring us together. Even though I have my doubts for the set of pleasure and pain being the measurement behind all our human behaviors, but it could still be very accurate and universal. The resonance makes up the beauty.
The end of the second part told the story of a devout man’s preparation for death. Combined with the third part of the performance, the string of titles shows us the joy of faith that overcomes pains and death: “A Man Went Down to the River”, “I Wanna Be Ready”, “Sinner Man”, “The Day is Past and Gone”, “You May Run On”, “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” We can see the strength of a faithful man. The act is a celebration and praise, embodied the joy of faith. How beautiful and powerful it is to have such faith, something that we can always believe, something that can guide us in any moment of our lives, through any kind of struggles and pains.
I don’t know what strike me more, the perfect capture and expression of the hopelessness and pain, or the strength and tenacity of a faithful man. To me, pleasure is more untouchable, and pain is more real, thus the resonance fascinates me. Then to something that I don’t quite understand: what is the thing that guides the man through pain and death? Is it the hope of salvation, a promising next stop called heaven? Or the bit of freedom of being able to have a faith and believe in good or anything else, when a man is physically strangled. Or it could simply be the strength of men that amaze me and have nothing to do with faith. I can’t figure, but with the uncertainties, I can still give applause and think: what an incredible art piece.