Monday, January 12, 2009

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Celebrates 50th Anniversary in Atlanta Feb. 19 - 22

Features Live Onstage Performances by Sweet Honey In The Rock

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) will return to Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theater, February 19-22, during a 50-city global tour in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Led by the world-renowned Artistic Director Judith Jamison, the Company will present a diverse repertory of exciting premieres, dramatic new productions, revered classics, and repertory favorites.

After its critically acclaimed, record-breaking season in New York, the internationally known Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the city to showcase the unrivaled beauty and power of Ailey dancers as they perform choreography infused with modern dance, African rhythms, jazz and ballet.

“We are ecstatic about the golden anniversary celebration of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,” said Jamison. “Our anniversary tour would not be complete without stopping in the city of Atlanta.”

Atlanta audiences can look forward to new productions of historic works from the Company repertory: 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 and Suite Otis (1971), by Tony-Award winning choreographer and former AAADT company member 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 Georgia-native Otis Redding.

Additionally, AAADT company member Hope Boykin has choreographed Go in Grace; 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 for three performances. Due to its overwhelming popularity, every performance of the 2009 Atlanta engagement will culminate in Alvin Ailey’s beloved Revelations which features traditional African-American spirituals.

Before each performance in Atlanta, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at 50 – A Golden Anniversary Celebration, a short film commemorating the Company’s rich history, will be shown to audiences. Ailey’s 18-month 50th Anniversary celebration also includes commemorative merchandise: Hallmark Ailey greeting cards; 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.

To purchase tickets, call Ticketmaster at 404-817-8700, or visit or Groups of 10 or more should call the Fox Theatre Group Sales hotline at 404-881-2000 for discounted rates. Special performances for student groups will be on Thursday, February 19 and Friday, February 20 at 10:30am; tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 404-881-2000. Detailed programming information is as follows:

Thurs 2/19 (student perf.)@ 10:30am ANNIVERSARY HIGHLIGHTS excerpt, REVELATIONS
Fri 2/20 (student perf.)@ 10:30am ANNIVERSARY HIGHLIGHTS excerpt, REVELATIONS
Fri 2/20 (evening) @ 8:00pm GO IN GRACE* / SUITE OTIS / REVELATIONS
Sat 2/21 (evening) @ 8:00pm GO IN GRACE* / SUITE OTIS / REVELATIONS
Sun 2/22 (matinee) @3:00pm GO IN GRACE* / SUITE OTIS / REVELATIONS

In addition to performances, AAADT will share its mission of bringing dance back to the people by presenting special master classes for Atlanta’s young people. Ailey will implement the Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach curriculum program in Atlanta Public Schools, thanks to the J.P. Morgan National Art of Learning Sponsorship. This program utilizes Alvin Ailey's signature work, Revelations, as the inspirational framework for a comprehensive study of language arts, social studies and dance.

Georgia Power is the sponsor of AAADT’s 50th Anniversary Atlanta Season.
Coca-Cola is the sponsor of the Family Matinee Program in Atlanta.
J.P. Morgan is the National Art of Learning Sponsor.
Citi provides major support for the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation’s
Arts In Education and Community programs.
Altria Group provides major support for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s New Works Fund.
MetLife Foundation provided leadership support for “Go in Grace.”
Movado Group provided major support for the new production of “Blues Suite.”
American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The 2009 North American Tour is sponsored, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

World Premiere

Go in Grace
Choreography: Hope Boykin
Music: Sweet Honey in the Rock (original composition & performing live onstage)
Company member Hope Boykin weaves a gentle, affecting tale of community, family and growth that illustrates the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” Boykin casts the dancers and singers as members of a society who unite to move a young girl forward in wisdom and grace to a commissioned score composed and performed live onstage by Sweet Honey In The Rock. Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African American legacy and traditions, this Grammy-Award winning female vocal ensemble possesses a stunning vocal prowess that captures the multifaceted sounds of blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, hip hop, ancient lullabies and jazz improvisation.

New Productions

Classic Ailey Highlights (various excerpts)
A new program featuring choreographic gems from Alvin Ailey’s revered career, demonstrating the tremendous range and resonance of one man’s genius., including excerpts of Phases (1980), Landscape (1981), For “Bird” – With Love (1984), Caverna Magica (1986), Opus McShann (1988), his final work.

Phases (1980) / Composer: Pharoah Sanders, Donald Byrd, Max Roach
In this sensual jazzy section, Mr. Ailey brightly showcases femininity versus masculinity.

Landscape (1981) / Composer: Bela Bartok
Alvin Ailey’s moody, lovely landscape of dance styles was inspired by the choreographer’s travels in Eastern Europe and the music of Bela Bartok.

For Bird – With Love (1984)
Composer: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Jerome Kern, Coleridge-Tatlor Parkinson
Mr. Ailey’s theme is the artist in conflict with society, as the ballet depicts the life of legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker. In this theatrically impressive section filled with elaborate props, costumes and sets, Charlie Parker invites Dizzy Gillepsie to a club, and highlights a snapshot of the duo’s real-life relationship.

Caverna Magica (1986) / Composer: Andreas Vollenweider
In a combination of athleticism and artistry, the male solo section of Caverna Magica glows with extraordinary jumps and turns. This piece exemplifies perfectly the “Ailey style”—choreography featuring a combination of jazz, ballet, and modern dance.

Opus McShann (1988) / Composer: Jay McShann and others
A choreographic portrait of Jay McShann, the “great practitioner of the Kansas City jazz piano style and living legacy of Kansas City jazz,” Opus McShann conveys the various styles this jazz master exudes through his music. From the sexy, beguiling duet in “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You,” to the comical meandering in “Doo Wah Doo,” Opus McShann presents the jazz doctor as a modern day African American icon with whom everyone can relate. The original Ailey dancers who first performed this piece studied swing, lindy-hop, and the jitterbug to perfect this lively and upbeat ballet’s movement style.

Blues Suite (1958)
Choreography: Alvin Ailey
Music: Traditional
Blues Suite marked the launch of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at its premiere in 1958, and defined Mr. Ailey’s choreographic genius in presenting real people on the concert dance stage. With the rumble of a train and the toll of distant bells, a cast of vividly-drawn characters from the barrelhouses and fields of Alvin Ailey’s southern childhood are summoned to dance and revel through one long, sultry night, poignantly evoking the sorrow, humor and humanity of the blues. Dance Magazine wrote, “Blues Suite galvanized the crowd and announced the arrival of a major choreographer. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Suite Otis (1971)
Choreography: George Faison
Music: Otis Redding
The timeless music of pioneering soul singer Otis Redding sets the stage for former AAADT company member and Tony Award-winning choreographer George Faison’s playful battle of the sexes. The yearning sensuality of soul stirring songs such as “Satisfaction,” “Try a Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and other favorites burst through this wildly popular six-part suite of dances ripe with romance and humor.

Ailey Signature Masterpiece

Revelations (1960)
Choreography: Alvin Ailey
Music: Traditional
Alvin Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American—“sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful”. This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey’s genius. Using African-American religious music--spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues--this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), now celebrating its 50th Anniversary, recognized by the US Congressional resolution as a “Vital American Cultural Ambassador to the World,” was founded in 1958 and has performed for more than 21 million people in 71 countries and on 6 continents. Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. is the umbrella organization which includes AAADT; Ailey II, founded in 1974 as a junior performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School, founded in 1969 and currently offering some of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs which is committed to bringing dance into the classrooms, communities and lives of people throughout the world; and The Ailey Extension, a program that offers dance and fitness classes to the general public at Ailey’s permanent home, The Joan Weill Center for Dance, located at 405 West 55th Street (at 9th Avenue), New York, NY.
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