by David Cohen

Today, as we celebrate 20 years of Artistic Director Judith Jamison’s remarkable vision and the artistry of 30 extraordinary dancers, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, America’s Cultural Ambassador to the World, continues to celebrate the African American cultural experience and to preserve and enrich the American modern dance tradition. Regarded as one of the world’s premier modern dance companies, The New York Times declares that “Ailey’s phenomenal popularity is unmatched by any other company.”
    “Dancing Spirit,” a new work by choreographer Ronald K. Brown, pays tribute to Judith Jamison’s profound influence to the world of dance. Set to music by Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis and War Brown’s evocative choreography utilizes movement from Cuba, Brazil and the United States to conjure dancing spirits who embody Jamison’s elegance, vision, dignity and generosity.
    The “Best Of 20 Years” program features highlights from popular ballets Judith Jamison has brought to or revived in the Ailey repertory, representing a wide range of styles and voices that have contributed to the Ailey canon. The program includes selections from Talley Beatty’s “The Stack-Up” (1982); Ronald K. Brown’s “Grace” (1999); Lar Lubovitch’s “North Star” (1987); Alonzo King’s “Following the Subtle Current Upstream” (2000), Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s “Shelter” (1992); Ulysses Dove’s “Bad Blood” (1984); Donald McKayle’s “Rainbow Round My Shoulder” (1959); Garth Fagan’s “Jukebox for Alvin” (1993); Redha’s “Lettres d’Amour” (1998); Hans van Manen’s “Polish Pieces” (1996); Billy Wilson’s “The Winter in Lisbon” (1992) and Donald Byrd’s “Dance at the Gym” (1991).
    “Love Stories,” is Judith Jamison‘s dynamic collaboration with hip-hop pioneer Rennie Harris and modern dance maverick Robert Battle. The piece was inspired by the Akan word “Sankofa,” which means “go back” (Sanko) and “take” (fa).
    In “Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places),” characters from all walks of life come together in Judith Jamison’s new collection of vignettes examining the joys and complications of human relationships. Original jazz compositions by musical iconoclast Eric Lewis and costumes by award-winning designer Paul Tazewell were inspired by a series of Jamison’s own drawings that depict these characters’ ordinary and sometimes extraordinary lives.
    The finale of each program is “Revelations,” Alvin Ailey’s most significant cultural masterpiece. Ailey’s inspiration for creating “Revelations” came from a variety of sources: memories of attending Baptist services in Texas as a child, interest in Brueghal’s paintings, Oriental Theater and his acquaintances with James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. Using African American traditional spirituals, this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. Since its premiere in 1960, more people around the world have seen this modern dance classic than any other work.

Wednesday, March 24 through Sunday, March 28, 2010. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater tickets are now on sale, and range in price from $30 – $85. For tickets, visit the Auditorium TheatER Box Office at 50 E. Congress Parkway; call Ticketmaster at (800) 982-ARTS (2787); or log on to



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