Sid Langley dances attendance on one of the world's top companies while on a trip to New York...

I don't think Birmingham audiences will let me down, I tell the tall, slim woman in a posh evening outfit. She's busily scoffing her home made salad from what could be mistaken for a Tupperware container while we lounge on a well- upholstered bench tucked away in a corner of the giant atrium of the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre.

Jodi Krizer, lovely woman, friendly, helpful, and as sharp as the sharpest Sabatier ever honed, has to snatch meals like this because she is in a power job.

A megawatt job. A nuclear-powered generator of a job.

She handles all the marketing and public relations operations for one of the world's top dance companies. Arguably THE top contemporary dance outfit.

I have been marvelling to her how the NJPAC audience picked up the cues on the soundtrack of the show I saw last night. I'm back again to see it tonight, lucky old me, along with another auditorium full of the company's home crowd.

Revelations is the signature work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (they spell it Theater, of course). Like all Ailey work, it is rooted in the black American experience. The soundtrack is Negro spirituals and the basic "story" sees a downtrodden people rise through church experiences and purification rites to joyous celebration.

That's joyous with a decidedly capital J. So Joyous it threatens to raise the roof in any venue where it's performed.

The Wade in the Water number has become so associated with the Ailey company since its first performance in 1960 that the motif of waving cloth, used on stage to represent waves, has been taken up by the architects of the company's new state-of-the-art home in Manhattan. They've turned the waves into sold metal baffles to hide the pipes and ducts of the air conditioning and other utilities up on the roof.

The music track only has to say "Clap your hands" and thunderous sounds follow. Immediately. Ditto with "Stamp your feet."

Jodi is wondering whether the piece will draw in the audience when it hits Birmingham Hippodrome (on September 13 and 14) as part of a European tour.

I stick up for the Brummie crowd. We'll be in there, I tell her. We're not as reserved as you might think.

In truth, if you're not moved by Revelations, you would probably be happier in a morgue. It combines the sheer verve and energy we expect from film and Broadway musicals with the extraordinary skill and precision of highly-trained ballet dancers.

It is a masterpiece of modern dance and that's not just me saying that - real dance critics have come up with the same judgment over and over.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) grew from a now fabled performance of March 1958, at the 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association in New York. Led by Alvin Ailey and group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.

The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 21 million people in 48 states and in 68 countries on six continents, including two historic residencies in South Africa.

The company has earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of African-American cultural expression and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

Born in Rogers, Texas on January 5, 1931, Alvin Ailey was introduced to dance by performances of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. His formal dance training began with an introduction to Lester Horton's classes by his friend, Carmen de Lavallade.

When Alvin (the company members all still call him "Mr Ailey") began creating dance, he drew upon his "blood memories" of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work - Revelations.

Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Alvin Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work. Today, the company continues his mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones to add to the repertoire. In all, more than 170 works by over 65 choreographers have been performed by The Ailey.

Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey asked Judith Jamison to become artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Ms Jamison (no one calls her Judith) wrote in her autobiography, Dancing Spirit, "I hope I'm a continuation of Alvin's vision. He has left me a road map. It's very clear. It works."

Judge for yourself at the Hippodrome next month.

*Sid Langley travelled to New York as a guest of Continental Airlines, flying on the daily service from Birmingham International Airport to their hub at Newark, New Jersey. From there it's just 14 miles to Manhattan with easy train and minibus connections.