Noted for his exciting marriage of black dance traditions with modern and classical forms, Alvin Ailey's championship of the work of black choreographers is reflected in two studio recordings. These include pieces by Ailey himself and by Judith Jamison and Talley Beattey, dancer/choreographers particularly associated with his pioneering company. Alvin Ailey contributes short introductions to three of the works. Programme One: Judith Jamison, the company's star dancer for fifteen years and Ailey's successor, introduces "Divining", her first major work as a choreographer. Set to hauntingly rhythmic drum music, the dance evokes a strong feeling of African tribal ritual. Ailey introduces his most famous ballet, "Revelations". This colourful, large-cast piece is performed to traditional gospel music and Negro spirituals. Programme Two: Alvin Ailey introduces the first piece in this programme – Talley Beattey's modern jazz ballet "The Stack-Up". Danced against a backdrop depicting the high-rise blocks of New York City, it tells a cruel story of street life, with a young man led astray by a drug pusher. Ailey dedicated his moving solo work "Cry" to his mother: it is his tribute to black women. Together with Judith Jamison, for whom it was originally choreographed, he introduces a performance by Deborah Manning.
David St. Charles