Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama attend Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance at the Kennedy Center Friday night

| 3 Comments

Pool Report #1
02/06/09

POTUS visits the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a 50th
anniversary performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Short and uneventful motorcade ride, departed South Lawn 7.18pm, arrived
Kennedy Center 7.24pm.

Still photographers were allowed into the theater as POTUS took his seat
for the 7.30 show while the rest of the pool was ushered into a windowless
backstage room to wait out its two and quarter hour duration. Muffled
cheers could be heard when POTUS was introduced. Photographs showed POTUS,
FLOTUS and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, waving at the audience from a
red VIP box decorated with the presidential seal. Photographers described
the reception as "ecstatic", likening it to those that once greeted The
Beatles.

The Kennedy Center program describes the show as "Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theater At 50 -- A Golden Anniversary Celebration".

"One of America's cultural ambassadors to the world, Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theater marks its 50th anniversary of bringing African American
cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition to the world's
stages."

The show was sold out and tickets cost from $30 to $89.

POTUS had other options at the Kennedy Center on Friday evening. Starting
at the same time in another theater was the premiere of the documentary
film "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny". The invitation-only event
was preceded by a discussion with hosts Newt and Callista Gingrich,
according to the Kennedy Center website. No word on whether POTUS and the
former House Speaker bumped into each other in the corridor.

Here's some more from the Kennedy Center website on Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theater and its latest show:

The genius of Alvin Ailey changed forever the perception of American dance;
today, the legacy continues with Judith Jamison's remarkable vision and the
extraordinary artistry of the Company's dancers.

For its annual Kennedy Center engagement--part of Modern Masters, the
Center's celebration of American modern dance--the company presents a week
of five mixed programs featuring two new works as well as Ailey favorites.
Revelations, Alvin Ailey's "ever-touching" (The Financial Times) and
"always knockout" (The New York Times) signature masterpiece, ends each
program.

A highlight of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 50th anniversary
celebration is Go in Grace, the eagerly anticipated collaboration between
the Company and Grammy Award⿿winning female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey
In The Rock, performed live on February 3 Opening Night only. Company
member Hope Boykin weaves a gentle, affecting tale of community, family,
and growth that illustrates the African proverb "it takes a village to
raise a child." To a score of soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms
composed and performed by Sweet Honey In The Rock, Boykin's powerful
choreography casts the dancers and singers as members of a society who
unite to move a young girl forward in wisdom and grace. Rooted in a deeply
held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African
American legacy and traditions, Sweet Honey In The Rock possesses a
stunning vocal prowess that captures the multifaceted sounds of blues,
spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, hip hop,
ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation.

With a highly dramatic style, complex partnering, and seamless integration
of classical and modern styles, acclaimed Italian choreographer Mauro
Bigonzetti showcases the Ailey dancers' emotional intensity and technical
prowess in Festa Barocca.

The engagement also includes a brand new Anniversary Highlights program
that spans each decade of Ailey's phenomenal career and features excerpts
from many of Alvin Ailey's most popular and beloved ballets: Blues Suite,
Streams, Choral Dances, Mary Lou's Mass, The Lark Ascending, Hidden Rites,
Night Creature, Cry, Phases, Landscape, For "Bird" ⿿ With Love, Caverna
Magica, and Opus McShann.

Otis Redding's sassy, sizzling music sets the stage for Suite Otis, George
Faison's playful battle of the sexes.

Alvin Ailey's searing portrait of oppression, Masekela Langage, draws
parallels between the era of South African apartheid and the race-induced
violence in Chicago during the 1960s.

Ailey's first masterpiece, Blues Suite, poignantly evokes the sorrow, humor
and humanity of the blues, those heartfelt songs that he called "hymns to
the secular regions of the soul."

Hans van Manen divides his kinetic Solo among three dancers in a tour de
force work that challenges the Ailey men's daring agility and grace.

Andrew Ward
White House Correspondent
The Financial Times

3 Comments

A GREAT DANCE COMPANY MEETS A GREAT PRESIDENT AND
HIS FAMILY!

I am happy his family is enjoying the fruits of D.C. life.
NOW END THE OIL WAR!!!
OUT OF AFGHANISTAN!
STOP THE FAKE PURSUIT OF THE 'TALIBAN'.

hey I don't believe your comment rhymes! Afganistan-Taliban! Did you know it?

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 6, 2009 7:22 PM.

Run up to Lincoln's Thursday 200th Birthday celebration: C-SPAN Lincoln specials was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama family makes first Camp David visit on Saturday is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.