Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HONEST SPIRIT, January 9, 2001
This review is from: Dancing Spirit (Paperback)
It is unusual to have a book reduce one to tears. That is usually reserved for a live performance and it is unusual, humbling and not a little frightening. I first read Judith Jamison's autobiography in 1995, and every time I re-read it, the effect is the same! The final pages summerize her philosophy concisely and with such power you can almost hear bells ringing in her voice. Your shoulders instinctively drop, your chin lifts and that strange core of yourself resonates along with her; along with her extraordinary vitality. Would that I could see her perform LIVE! Her words will have to be enough, and combined with the fine work she is still producing, they are! Ms. Jamison became the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989, after the founder's death. It is a visionary company and a powerful force in dance, and her promotion seems to be a logical and natural progression. "I don't feel as though I'm standing in anyone's shoes. I'm standing on Alvin's shoulders. The horizons become broader...." The book chronicles Ms. Jamison's dancing role in the company along with earlier personal factors in her life that are her story. Faith, discipline and an extraordinary amount of love and guidance, ethnocentrism and family meld in this woman of great strength and purpose. Her clarity and focus are to be emulated and admired and her attitude toward dance and dancers is precise. She seems truly gracious in all her writing. Her respect for those who came before is profound. Many personal photos are interspersed with studio shots and snippets of insight on life and dance nail down her philosophy. Ms. Jamison's great spirit and intelligence permeate. Stark recognition of her great dance ability is always tempered with humility and truth. Often written with a gutsy awareness of ther Afro-American heritage (along with writer and poet Howard Kaplan) the vernacular is often set inside quotation marks, lending humor to this woman who is so many things, most formidibly a professional. The word Goddess surely applies. How shocking it was to see this book translated into dance a few seaon's back! And again, greatly humbling at the artistry that so completely transposed the written word into a dance of great beauty and feeling. "Dance from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet....even when you're stationary you must be moving and alive...." Read this book and feel alive-full of spirit and GIVE it to any young dancer you encounter!
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