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Dance Theater of Harlem back after eight-year hiatus

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From page A11 | November 07, 2012 | Leave Comment

Members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem perform a duet. Eduardo Patino/Courtesy photo

The Dance Theatre of Harlem — which came to town several times under the aegis of the old  UC Davis Presents program in the 1990s — returns at 8 p.m. Friday to Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center.

Founded in 1969, the Dance Theatre of Harlem toured widely and became cultural ambassasors, often described as “the first black classical ballet company,” and winning multiple awards and recognitions.

The professional company went on hiatus in 2004 for financial reasons, but this year the Dance Theatre of Harlem is back on the road once again. The company is now led by one of its founding members, the former principal dancer Virginia Johnson.

On the program will be choreographer Robert Garland’s “Gloria,” a spiritual work from 2012 incorporating music by 20th century French composer Francis Poulenc; choreographer Helen Pickett’s “When Love,” a time-conscious piece from 2012 incorporating music from the Philip Glass opera “Einstein on the Beach”; a restaging of choreographer Alvin Ailey’s 1972 classic “The Lark Ascending,” using the lush, pastoral music of English compoers Ralph Vaughan Williams; the “Black Swan Pas de Deux,” staged by choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes, based on the famous sequence in the third act of the ballet “Swan Lake” (with music by Tchaikovsky); and “Return,”  a 1999 piece by choreographer Robert Garland that draws on music by black American stars like James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

Tickets are $32-$69 general, $16-$34.50 students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787. A brief question-and-answer session with the artists will follow the performance.

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