CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 29, 1999
Alvin Ailey jazzes it up with world premiere by Jawole
Willa Jo Zollar
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theatre will perform the world premiere of Jawole Willa Jo Zollars "C
Sharp Street -- B Flat Avenue" at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19
and 20 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.
Hancher commissioned Zollar, artistic director of
the Urban Bush Women, for the 1999-2000 Millennium Festival, the nations
most ambitious and extensive performing-arts millennium celebration.
Other works on the program will be Alvin Aileys
"Revelations," one of the companys signature pieces; "Divining,"
choreographed by Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison in 1984; and "Ascension,"
a 1998 work by choreographer Troy ONeil Powell.
Hancher has presented Zollars Urban Bush Women
on several occasions, including "Praise House" and the world premiere
of her "Bones and Ash." The commission for the Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theatre is Zollars first excursion into jazz, delving into the
roots of her upbringing in Kansas City, where her mother was a cabaret singer
and her brother was a jazz musician.
Her "C Sharp Street -- B Flat Avenue" is
set to the "Picasso Suites" by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist
and bass-clarinetist David Murray, one of the most-recorded artists in jazz.
A co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, Murray has recorded 150 albums
as a leader and was named 1980s "Musician of the Decade" by the
Village Voice and 1992 "Musician of the Year" by New York Newsday.
While he is best known as an envelope-pushing composer
and improviser -- a fixture in the readers polls of magazines including
Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz-- Murrays eclectic career has even included
a guest-artist gig with the Grateful Dead in Madison Square Garden.
Zollar established Urban Bush Women in 1984 to synthesize
the African-American spiritual influences of her upbringing with dance and
theater. Her work with the company has earned ongoing support from the National
Endowment for the Arts and a New York Bessie Award. Her work has been presented
at venues including Spoleto USA, the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy
of Music and the public television series "Alive From Off-Center."
Commissioning sponsors for this event are John W.
and Mary Ann Colloton through the University of Iowa Foundation and the National
Endowment for the Arts.
In more than 40 years of performances, the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theatre has become a national artistic treasure, and one of
the leading advocates and interpreters of African-American traditions of spirituality,
music, dance and literature.
In "Revelations," Ailey explored the motivations
and emotions of African-American religious music to create a work that the
New York Times Anna Kisselgoff called "Aileys great masterpiece
of 1960, a tribute to the black heritage of America," and Karen Campbell
of the Boston Globe recommended as "one of the most sublime dances ever
In "Divining" Jamison continued the Ailey
tradition of probing the spiritual core of African-American life in a work
praised for its combination of raw tribal energy and urban sophistication.
The critic of the Washington Post described "Divining" as "fascinating,
atmospheric and propulsive."
Ailey provided choreographic opportunities for the
members of his company, and Jamison has continued this tradition as well.
"Ascension" is the choreographic debut of 20-year company member
Troy ONeil Powell. In "Ascension" Powell imagines a world
ruled by a goddess and her muses, whose aim is not to inspire acts of creation
but to set boundaries on them.
Hanchers season-spanning Millennium Festival
features 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance, with 15 of the
commissioned works and productions receiving their world or American premieres
In addition to "C Sharp Street -- B Flat Avenue,"
new works have been created -- or are being created -- by theater visionary
Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu, UI alumnus Lar
Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Paul Taylor, and Bill T. Jones; and composers Richard
Danielpour, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, and UI alumnus David Lang.
Performances of the commissioned works will be presented
by prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance,
the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Kronos Quartet, the Bill
T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai Juku,
the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and the Ethos Percussion
Tickets for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
are $45, $40 and $34. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent
discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10 -- a discount
of more than 60 percent. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays,
and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa,
dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free,
1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard
or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university
bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should
dial (319) 335-1158. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing
impairment who use that technology.
For more information on the Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theatre, visit <http://www.alvinailey.org>
on the World Wide Web. For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar
updates, visit the ArtsIowa website, <www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr>.
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