Notes on Cry

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4 March 2016

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The dance’s intent is to portray the struggle & strength of the African American women who were in the slave trade; how women so enslaved & trapped can still manage to be so free. “I heard about lynching’s, Having that kind of experience as a child left a feeling of rage in me that I think pervades my work” Alvin Ailey.

“She rises again to wear the cloth as a shawl, then steps on its ends as if bound by it to the ground…”

“The final posture mirrors the opening posture of the dance, suggesting a cyclical inevitable progression of frustration and despair…”

Ailey has abstracted this narrative to portray the woman’s despair. BEEN ON A TRAIN

The use of the percussive piano accents in relation to movement. For example, the dynamic emphasis of the gestures Ailey uses.

“The power of Cry emanates from its defiantly shifting images of identity in its first section, the bottomless abyss of sorrow approached in its second section and the transcendent quality of ecstatic faith engaged in the third section.”

“ Cry became emblematic as an act of simultaneous defiance and release. As a depiction of contemporary African American identity, the dance liberated audience and dancer in its modernistic layering of movement genres, especially its conspicuous use of neoAfrican body part isolations.”

In this work there are three distinct sections and for each new section, there is a new song that is played. The songs used in this work are ‘Something About John Coltrane’ by Alice Coltrane, ‘Been On A Train’ by Laura Nyro and ‘Right On. Be Free.’ by The Voices Of East Harlem. In a couple of these songs the word ‘north’ is used quite a bit. My personal interpretation is that these slaves perhaps saw freedom and/or refuge in North America, wished to be there but something stopped them. She clearly demonstrated Ailey’s mother’s struggles as well as any other African American woman’s struggles at the time as a slave to their fight for freedom.

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"Notes on Cry" StudyScroll, 4 March 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Notes on Cry [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5 December, 2023]

"Notes on Cry" StudyScroll, Mar 4, 2016. Accessed Dec 5, 2023.

"Notes on Cry" StudyScroll, Mar 4, 2016.

"Notes on Cry" StudyScroll, 4-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 5-Dec-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Notes on Cry. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5-Dec-2023]

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