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Release: Immediate

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs in Hancher April 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, approaching its 40th anniversary at the forefront of modern dance, will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. The performance is part of Hancher's 1996-97 American Visions series.

The company will perform "The Winter in Lisbon" by Billy Wilson, "Polish Pieces" by Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen, "Treading" by Elisa Monte and "Suite Otis" by George Faison.

"The Winter in Lisbon," a large company work, celebrates the musical spirit of jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Janice Berman of Newsday called the piece "a surefire, sizzling romp . . . about dancing and romancing, '50s style."

The company premiered its production of "Polish Pieces" just last fall, on an extensive international tour. Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times described the Ailey production, set to music by Gorecki, as "charged with electricity from the start," and Clive Barnes of the New York Post wrote that van Manen "has created a wonderfully attractive and brilliant structure of dance."

"Treading," which Monte created in 1981 to excerpts from Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians," is a one-of-a-kind sensual sculpture. Calling the piece "a sensational duet," Christine Temin of the Boston Globe described how "the two dancers seem to saturate the space, oozing and stretching into every corner of the stage."

Revived this season, "Suite Otis" expresses the moods of Otis Redding's popular songs. "A classic with an unquenchable youthful spirit," in the estimation of the New York Times' Jennifer Dunning, this 1971 work is "full of a goofy good humor and a theatricality that are now, regrettably, a thing of the past in modern dance."

Now nearly 40 years old, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre is recognized as one of America's cultural treasures, an institution that enshrines the contributions of an American artistic genius and extends his legacy through the leadership of his most honored dancer, Judith Jamison.

Alvin Ailey was one of the most important African-American pioneers in the nation's dance history -- a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognized his lifetime contribution to American culture -- but his vision was not restricted by any narrow racial, ethnic or cultural categories.

Ailey created nearly 80 dances, embodying his intense, passionate and personal

style, but he conceived of his company as much more than a repository for his own work. His company has always drawn from the richness of modern dance, in athletic and emotionally charged performances that speak to the universality of the human spirit. The Ailey company has performed more than 150 works, representing the creativity of more than 50 choreographers.

As it approaches its fifth decade, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for live audiences totaling more than 18 million, in nearly 70 countries, and the company has been seen by millions more through numerous TV broadcasts.

The survival of a dance company is often threatened by the passing of its founder and creative leader, but Judith Jamison, who was one of a handful of widely known modern-dance stars during her long tenure as Ailey's leading female dancer, has carried Ailey's vision forward in the years since his death.

"The company's dancing continues to be spectacular," Dance Magazine reported. "A steady stream of talent fills the ranks, and even newcomers look like men and women of the world -- strong in body and soul, rich in experience, open to big feelings."

Tickets for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater are $32 and $30. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for those 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. 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. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Further information about this event is available on Hancher's World Wide Web homepage, at <>. Information is also available at the company's web site, <>.

UI Men's Intercollegiate Athletics is the sponsor of the American Visions series, through the University of Iowa Foundation. The Ailey performance is also supported, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.