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Black jazz, dance and funk at Kennedy Center

By Imani Tibbs/Howard University News Service
On February 2, 2015

Alvin Ailey Dance TroupeThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featuring a diverse group of African-American performers in February, Black History Month, from the Alvin Ailey Dancers to opera star Eric Owens to saxophone funk master Maceo Parker.

The Center, which opened  September 1971 as a memorial to former President John F. Kennedy, has long been the place where a diverse group of  artists share their work with the Washington area, including  moder and folk dance,  ballet, opera, folk, pop, rock, jazz and   music, spokesperson  Amanda Hunter said. “While we have great African-American acts coming next month, I encourage you to check our schedule throughout the year,” Hunter said. “It’s more than a month for us. We support great art and great art has no gender, no race and no face.”

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which returns to the Kennedy Center on its annual American tour. Based in New York City, the modern dance company was founded by the late Alvin Ailey in 1958. The company pulls from Ailey’s southern roots, choreographing movement to slave spirituals, jazz, and folk music. This year at the Center the company will debut “Odetta,” a piece choreographed by Matthew Rushing in memorial to singer Odetta Holmes, “the voice of the Civil Rights Movement.”  Tickets range from $30 - $125. The show runs from February 3- 8. Master classes available.

Eric OwensTwo-time Grammy winner Eric Owens, an operatic bass-baritone who takes the stage to perform a night of jazz standards made popular by singers Billy Eckstine and Johnny Hartman. Performing a week before his revival of “The Flying Dutchman” with the Washington National Opera, Owens will be accompanied by the Ted Rosenthal Trio on Feb. 28. Tickets are $49. Master class available.

LaChanzeLaChanze, a Tony Award- winner and Broadway star of “If/Then” and “The Color Purple,” who makes her Kennedy Center debut Feb. 13. For 90-minutes, the singer  will entertain audiences with monologues and reflections on her rise to stardom as a part of The Kennedy Center’s Barbara Cook’s Spotlight series. Tickets are $45.

Marceo ParkerSaxophonist  Maceo Parker, who found fame with James Brown in the 1960s and then again in the 1970s with Parliament-Funkadelic,  returns to the Kennedy Center for two shows on February 6 at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.  Parker, whose name is synonymous with funky music, also played with Prince. Tickets are $32.

The Center will host over 100 shows, concerts and master classes in February.

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