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Obamas to honor dancer Judith Jamison at White House celebration

August 31, 2010 | 11:25 am

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During their time in the White House, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have held events celebrating classical music, jazz, country music and Broadway. Now it's the dance world's turn to get its moment in the executive spotlight.

The White House said Tuesday that the first couple will host a celebration of dance on  Sept. 7 during which they will honor Judith Jamison, the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The event will include performances by members of Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor Dance Company, the Washington Ballet, Super Cr3w and New York City Ballet.

The tribute, which will be held in the White House’s East Room, is set to take place at 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. Damian Woetzel, a former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet and a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, will direct the production.

Jamison has served as artistic director of Alvin Ailey for 20 years and is considered one of the top choreographers in the country. She is set to retire from the company in 2011, with Robert Battle taking over her position.

Earlier this year, the company performed a one-week engagement at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. In an interview with The Times, Jamison discussed her entire career, including her latest works and her legacy.

The event at the White House is meant to be the first in a series of dance-related performances that are part of the Obama administration's continued emphasis on arts and arts education. As with past White House cultural concerts, there will be a student workshop held in the East Room prior to the evening's events.

Participants in Tuesday's workshop will include students from Alvin Ailey, Ballet Hispanico, the Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Washington School of Ballet, the National Dance Institute, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

-- David Ng

Photos: Barack and Michelle Obama. Credit: Jim Young / Reuters

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