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Ailey dancers return to Mondavi with modern classics, newer works

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From page A14 | April 26, 2013 |

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Samuel Lee Roberts and Kirven James Boyd in Robert Battle's "Strange Humors," which will be at the Mondavi Center April 29-30. Paul Kolnik/Courtesy photo

That’s the tickdet

Who: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

When: 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 29-30

Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $35-$68 general, $17.50-$34 students; www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Mondavi Center for two nights at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 29-30.

The two evenings will see largely different programs, with only one work to be featured on both nights — Ailey’s signature classic “Revelations,” a 38-minute piece from 1960 that incorporates modern dance set to black gospel tunes like “I’ve Been Buked,” “Wade in the Water” and “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,” recalling Ailey’s childhood in rural Texas and the Baptist Church.

The Monday program also will feature:

* Choreographer Paul Taylor’s “Arden Court,” from 1981, a 23-minute piece combining modern dance that is both playful and majestic, much like the festive music of English Baroque composer William Boyce on which Taylor’s choreography draws;

* “Takademe,” a three-minute piece from 1999 by choreographer Robert Battle, now the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and

* “Home,” by bold hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris, an 18-minute piece inspired by the stories of people living with or affected by HIV, drawing on poems and images submitted in 2011 to the Fight HIV Your Way contest.

The Tuesday program also will feature:

* “Night Creature,” a 17-minute piece created in 1974 that combines Ailey’s lively choreography with Duke Ellington’s elegant, syncopated, jazzy music, depicting an after-midnight world where jazz babies and night owls live;

* “Strange Humors,” choreographed by artistic director Robert Battle, which is an eccentric, jocular display for two dancers.  Composer John Mackey, with whom Battle is a frequent collaborator, provides a fiery score propelled by elements of African hand drumming and Middle Eastern folk music; and

* “Petite Mort” by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, which was created for the 1991 Salzburg Festival, to mark the second centenary of the death of W.A. Mozart, and draws on  two of Mozart’s most popular Piano Concertos (Nos. 21 and 23). The choreography includes six men, six women and six fencing foils, with lots of “jousting and coupling.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Ailey, this group of young African-American modern dancers changed the perception of American dance. The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 23 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents, as well as millions more through television broadcasts.

Before his untimely death in 1989, Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the company to unprecedented success. Jamison, in turn, personally selected Battle to succeed her in 2011. In announcing his appointment as artistic director, she said, “Combining an intimate knowledge of the Ailey company with an independent perspective, Robert Battle is without question the creative force of the future.”

Tickets to either evening are $35-$68 general, $17.50-$34 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

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