AAADT Celebrates Five Decades Of Inspiring Artistry

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Artistic Director Judith Jamison announced today that the 2008 New York City Center 50th Anniversary Season of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) will celebrate five decades of inspiring artistry with live onstage performances by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis in Ailey & Ellington and by Sweet Honey In The Rock in a new work by AAADT company member Hope Boykin.

The performances will include a world premiere by Mauro Bigonzetti; three new productions of classic works; and Anniversary Highlights, a special program celebrating the genius of Alvin Ailey.

The five-week season at New York City Center, from December 3, 2008 through January 4, 2009, will launch with a 50th Anniversary Gala celebrating the Ailey legacy with Honorary Chair and Honored Guest Oprah Winfrey. The one-night-only program will culminate in Alvin Ailey’s beloved Revelations with live music featuring Jessye Norman, Ella Mitchell, Richard Smallwood, Darius de Haas and Billy Porter.

For one extraordinary week, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will join the Ailey dancers in Ailey & Ellington, a joyous live music celebration of America’s two great art forms – modern dance and jazz music. Featuring works from Alvin Ailey’s legendary collaboration with the great Duke Ellington, the program will also include excerpts of works to Ellington music by Talley Beatty and Louis Falco.

AAADT company member Hope Boykin’s world premiere Go in Grace is an innovative collaboration with Grammy-Award winning female a cappella musical group Sweet Honey In The Rock, who will perform their original score live onstage with the dancers. Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, praised for his fresh and inventive sensibility, brings his distinctly European flair and dramatic style to the Ailey repertory for the first time with a world premiere ballet.

New productions of historic works from the Ailey repertory will be shared with today’s audiences: Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece Blues Suite, first seen at the Company’s premiere performance in 1958, brings to life “blood memories” of rural, Depression-era Southern Texas poignantly evoking the sorrow, humor and humanity of the blues; Suite Otis (1971), by Tony-Award winning choreographer George Faison, is ripe with the romance and humor of young lovers out on the town in a sizzling suite of dances to the timeless songs of Otis Redding; and Alvin Ailey’s Masekela Langage (1969), a searing portrait of oppression, was recently revived for the anniversary year.

A retrospective of Alvin Ailey’s phenomenal choreographic career will be presented in a new Anniversary Highlights special program that includes excerpts of favorite works and rarely-seen gems spanning each decade, from Blues Suite, the dance that launched the Company in 1958, to Opus McShann, his final piece thirty years later. The program will also include his masterpiece Revelations in its entirety. In addition, the legendary Ella Mitchell and members of the Riverside Church Inspirational Choir will sing eight stirring performances of Revelations, conducted by Eric Reed. Kenny Brawner and the Brawner Brothers Band will perform live onstage for Blues Suite on four special nights.

Each performance throughout the season will open with a short film, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at 50 – A Golden Anniversary Celebration, commemorating the Company’s rich 50-year history. Ailey’s 18-month 50th Anniversary celebration includes International and U.S. performances in 50 cities along with special commemorative merchandise, including: Hallmark Ailey greeting cards; Ailey/Celebration Calendar and Ailey Ascending, a photographic art book, by Andrew Eccles; Ailey Movado Museum Time Piece; A Young Ailey Dancer, a children’s book by Valerie Gladstone and Jose Ivey; and an Ailey Barbie Doll. The Prudential Foundation is the sponsor of AAADT’s 50th Anniversary New York Season. -- www.alvinailey.org

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