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History comes to life at SPAC

A modern dance performance combining dance, multimedia video art and live music will tell the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln, exploring history and politics, when Bill T. Jones and the Arnie Zane Dance Company take to the SPAC Amphitheatre stage on Wednesday, July 28, at 8 p.m. The performance will be preceded by a 7:30 p.m. Pre-Curtain Talk from the stage.

Jones, who recently won a Tony Award for Best Choreography for his Broadway hit Fela! portrays race, war and slavery in his newest dance theater production, "Fondly Do We HopeFervently Do We Pray." Dance is intertwined with video art by Janet Wong, a set by Bjorn Amelan and an original live musical performance incorporating folk, classical and gospel music, all connected by Lincoln's words and text from Walt Whitman, Shakespeare and the Old Testament, to provide autobiographic accounts and use historical themes from Lincoln's presidency to show how the same issues reappear in today's political climate.

SPAC is one of only a handful of performing arts centers in the country to present this work because of the resources it takes to perform. The production was recently performed at Lincoln Center.

"The opportunity for SPAC to present Bill T. Jones' powerful dance theatre work on Abraham Lincoln is tremendously exciting audiences will be captivated and challenged by Jones' examination of Abraham Lincoln's life and legacy, and his impact on our present day political and social environment. History buffs, political observers, arts lovers and anyone who appreciates excellence and creativity will not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Marcia J. White, SPAC's president and executive director in a statement.

The production's title comes from a line in Lincoln's second inaugural address and touches on key moments from Lincoln's life, like his romance with his eventual-wife Mary Todd, his grief over the deaths of two children, guilt over those killed in the war and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Jones shows the distance between "what is and what could have been" if Lincoln had lived.

Jones will be in Saratoga on Friday, July 23, to discuss the work at the National Museum of Dance at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free for those holding tickets to the July 28 performance and $5 for the general public.

Tickets for "Fondly Do We HopeFervently Do We Pray" are $40 and available at www.spac.org, by phone at 584-9330 or at the Box Office on Route 50.

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