February 19, 2003

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Feb. 21-March 2, Zellerbach Hall

IN DECEMBER 1954 , Alvin Ailey (and dance partner Carmen de Lavallade) left Los Angeles for New York City to perform in the now legendary musical House of Flowers for a planned five months. Balanchine had just been fired, the book rewritten, and it was an opportunity that the two ambitious African American dancers could not refuse. The musical flopped, but Ailey never moved back to California – he had been bitten by the theater bug for good. Now, almost 50 years later, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has become one of the most successful American dance companies in history. For 10 days they will be in Berkeley for the Bay Area's annual pick-me-up of Ailey dance. This year's show includes four programs, the third of which features a duet by de Lavallade, Sweet Bitter Love. If you want to check out the breadth of Ailey's choreography, the second program is a good choice: besides the company's signature work, Revelations, it offers excerpts from eight works spanning some 14 years, including the gut-wrenching 1971 solo, Cry, and 1984's For "Bird" with Love, Ailey's dramatic tribute to Charlie Parker. Program A: Fri/21-Sat/22, 8 p.m.; Program B: Sat/22 and March 1, 2 p.m.; Feb. 26, 8 p.m.; Program C: Sun/23 and March 2, 3 p.m.; Feb. 27, 8 p.m.; Program D: Fri/28 and March 1, 8 p.m. UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk. $26-$48. (510) 642-9988, www.calperfs.berkeley.edu. (Rita Felciano)