Dance News: Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, Robert Mugabe, Beijing Contemporary Dance Theater

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Oprah and Barbie help Ailey celebrate 50th: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will launch its 50th anniversary season in high style on Wednesday with a performance at New York City Center and kick ass after-party in a ballroom decked out in Revelations-inspired décor.

Further fabulousness includes: Oprah Winfrey as special guest and honorary chair, the Empire State Building lit up in gold, and a special-edition Barbie doll designed by AAADT artistic director Judith Jamison.

The City Center season, which features performances by Wynton Marsalis and Sweet Honey in the Rock, will continue through January 3, followed by a tour of 50 cities in the U.S. and abroad.

Paul Taylor finds a new home in NYC: After 20 years in SoHo, the Paul Taylor Dance Company is movin’ on down to the Lower East Side. The company, which is being evicted to make way for a Banana Republic, will move into its new digs on Grand Street next year.

Ballet to chronicle the life of Robert Mugabe: Bawren Tavaziva, a Zimbabwean choreographer living in Britain, is creating a ballet about dictator Robert Mugabe called My Friend Robert. “Choreographing it will mean that I won’t be able to return home for at least one year,” Tavaziva said. “It will just be too dangerous for me personally, but it’s a statement I needed to make at this time — I owe it to my country.”

Chinese ballet gets a modern makeover: Beijing Contemporary Dance Theater, China’s first modern ballet troupe, will debut this month with a performance of a three-part work called Space Diary. Wang Yuanyuan, a frequent collaborator of director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower), founded the company in April. “I want modern ballet to express what is going on in people’s minds,” she said. “Classic ballet has little to say about that.”