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Cal Performances Presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Four bay area premiers and classic works Tuesday-Sunday, April 21-26


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) returns to Cal Performances for its annual residency, featuring four Bay Area premieres as well as timeless works spanning decades of the company’s extensive repertory. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, the company performs three distinct programs, with ten different works, in seven performances Tuesday-Sunday, April 21-26 in Zellerbach Hall. Two recent dances created for the company receive their Bay Area premieres: local choreographer Robert Moses’ first work for AAADT, The Pleasure of the Lesson (2014), and Matthew Rushing’s ODETTA (2014), which the longtime Ailey dancer—and now rehearsal director—choreographed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Jacqulyn Buglisi’s signature work, Suspended Women (2000) and Hofesh Shechter’s Uprising (2006) also make their Bay Area premieres with this residency.

Program A, performed Tuesday, April 21 and Friday, April 24 at 8:00 p.m., features the Bay Area premiere of ODETTA (2014), acclaimed Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing’s tribute to gospel singer and civil rights activist Odetta Holmes, choreographed to a selection of her most powerful songs and songs by Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Bad Blood (1986) is Ulysses Dove’s fiercely emotional work for seven dancers, with music by Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel. David Parsons’ signature solo, Caught (1982) is a virtuosic meditation on flight starring a dancer executing more than 100 leaps synchronized to the flashes of a strobe light. True to tradition, the program closes with Ailey’s 1960 masterpiece celebrating the African American experience, Revelations.

Program B, performed Wednesday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, April 25 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m., includes the Bay Area premiere of local choreographer Robert Moses’ first dance for AAADT, The Pleasure of the Lesson (2014), a sensual work created for ten dancers featuring the Moses’ original music score. Dutch choreographer Hans Van Manen’s Polish Pieces (1995) is a kaleidoscopic ensemble work driven by the rhythms of a Henryk Górecki score. Sierra Leone-born choreographer Asadata Dafora’s Awassa Astrige/Ostrich is a groundbreaking solo from 1932 that blends traditional African dance with Western staging and a score by Carl Riley. The program concludes with Revelations.

Program C, performed Thursday, April 23 and Saturday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m., features two dramatically contrasting Bay Area premieres: Uprising (2006), Israeli-born choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s aggressive, energetic work for seven male dancers with a percussive score, and Suspended Women (2000), Jacqulyn Buglisi’s intricate work featuring an ensemble of ghost- like female dancers with music by Ravel. Christopher Wheeldon’s dreamlike pas de deux After the Rain (2015) is danced to music by Arvo Pärt. The program concludes with Revelations.

Founded in 1958, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed around the world for millions of dance enthusiasts. Dancer, choreographer, and activist Alvin Ailey led the company for its first 30 years, creating dozens of works that often drew on African American music, history, and culture. Former Ailey dancer Judith Jamison led the company from 1980 to 2011, introducing works by leading choreographers as well as adding her own creations to its repertoire. Robert Battle, the company’s current Artistic Director, has continued Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s tradition of impassioned, meaningful dance grounded in the African American experience since his appointment in 2011.

Tickets for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Tuesday-Sunday, April 21-26 in Zellerbach Hall range from $40.00 to $96.00 and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, or at www.calperformances.org.

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