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Lula Washington Dance Theatre

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Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Some facts bear repeating. The richness of African-American culture is one of them. Alvin Ailey first brought mainstream attention to black dance forms in the 50s, but you wouldn't know it from Lula Washington's experience: the only dance she saw growing up in the Nickerson Gardens housing project in Watts was on The Carol Burnett Show, according to a recent New York Times article about the Los Angeles-based choreographer. Washington saw the Ailey company only when she went to junior college, just as the 70s were breaking--"It was the first time I saw black people on the stage. Before then, there was nothing that told me being on stage was even a possibility." Though her company is now 20 years old, it's performing in the Chicago area for the first time this weekend, for one night only. The program covers a range of African-American music--from the blues to spirituals to gospel to jazz--as well as various dance styles, including some from west Africa. Washington is showing five of her own pieces plus a collaboration with her daughter inspired by a workshop in Africa, a dance by Kenny Long, and Donald McKayle's 1972 Songs of the Disinherited, which includes a lovely female solo to the song "Angelitos Negros." Full of feeling as well as attitude, Washington's work is an evangelist's exhortation to keep the faith. Friday at 8 in the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, Stuenkel Rd. and Governors Hwy. in University Park; $28. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 708-235-2222 for tickets and information.

--Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tom Carvaglia.

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