By Kristi Casey Sanders

“Atlanta is a rich historical and cultural landscape, so it’s always a joy to return each year,” says Judith Jamison, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (The Ailey). “The warmth and energy of this city inspires our dancers in a way that is indescribable.”

The February engagement at The Fox Theatre kicks off the company’s 2007 North American tour, which ends May 6. Highlights of the program include the company premiere of Twyla Tharp’s “The Golden Section,” the popular signature piece “Revelations,” and a new production of the Alvin Ailey-Duke Ellington collaboration, “The River,” restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya. A special performance of “Grace” on Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. honors the 25th anniversary of Renee Robinson, the only dancer in the current company hand-picked by Ailey.

The Ailey began in 1958 with a performance at the 92nd Street Young Men’s Hebrew Association in New York City featuring choreographer Alvin Ailey and a group of young, African-American modern dancers. Since then, the company has performed for an estimated 21 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on six continents. Its repertoire consists of more than 200 works by more than 70 choreographers, including 79 ballets by Alvin Ailey. During the Atlanta leg, the company presents a mix of new and classic works from its repertoire, with two student matinees on Feb. 1 and 2.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater plays The Fox Theatre Feb. 1-4, 2007.