About Hidden Rites
Alvin Ailey described Hidden Rites as "the battle of the sexes." "The age-old fight and seduction rituals that occur between men and women have excited my sensibilities for a long time," he said.
Ailey created Hidden Rites in 1973. The ballet was one of the most experimental in his career, exploring the kinetic relationship between males and females and depicting the quintessential psychological and physical elements that simultaneously tear us apart and unite us. Patrice Sciortino's percussive score with bells, chimes, piano, drums and whistles further established the atmosphere of a mythical kingdom, inspiring Ailey to investigate the myths and rituals of Africa, India, Egypt and Asia. Using traditional and modern styles while incorporating jazz, modern, ballet and various cultural traditions, the choreographer created a ballet celebrating men, women, love and death in groups, solos and duets for a cast of 19 dancers.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya, a member of the original cast of Hidden Rites, recalls the creation of the ballet as a very exciting, inspiring time. "It was wonderful to work so closely with Alvin, to be in the studio with him working on something new and to have everyone dancing together. It wasn't like Revelations or Blues Suite that had already been choreographed and was then taught to us years later. He was creating the ballet for us, to showcase the dancers and give each person something special. Much of the movement is based on Graham technique. Alvin had great respect for Graham and he loved making his dancers move in that way." The powerful and sensitive movement is combined with intense emotions highlighting rituals of initiation, death and rebirth. As Newsweek magazine wrote, "They dance entranced, obsessed with some inner vision, ultimately revealing truths about the origins of both man and dance." Each generation of Ailey dancers has left a unique signature on these tender, joyful rites. Thirty-one years after an original cast that also included Artistic Director Judith Jamison and Ailey II Artistic Director Sylvia Waters, the current Company will bring renewed energy and new insight to this great work. "Revisiting this ballet is very exciting," says Chaya. "In restaging Hidden Rites I'm taking care not to imitate what previous dancers have done. We're using Alvin's steps to let these dancers explore who they are, and they're doing a great job."