Ailey II Debuts With Both Old and New at the Skirball Center
By Bethany Hopta, Contributing Writer, March 27, 2017
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is nearing a six-decade milestone of presenting, and at the same time, revolutionizing modern dance as we know it today. Over the years the company has grown and in 1974 the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble was formed with the mission of bringing dance performances, training, and community programs to areas that might not have had access to the art form. That company eventually morphed into what is affectionately now known as Ailey II, and is comprised of junior-level dancers—in age only—not ability! This group of twelve dancers each year embarks upon a rigorous touring and community outreach program, and now the company is returning to its New York home after a 25-city world tour to dazzle us with two programs that emphasize the company’s diversity and talent.
Ailey II will debut at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts through a series of performances scheduled for March 29-April 2, 2017. These performances will showcase the company’s versatility with two programs: the Contemporary Favorites program features one debut and three returning pieces from the 2015-2016 season; and, the All New features three new pieces from the 2016-2017 season.
The debut duet Meika, featured in the Contemporary Favorites program is by French choreographer Leila Da Rocha, and was originally conceived as a response to the world’s upheaval and conflict with an eventual response of peace. Dramatic contrasts of color in costuming and fabric pieces against a black background accentuate this piece and music by Max Richter and Isaac Albeniz accentuate the fluid movements of the dancers.
In & Out, by Jean Emilie, an Ailey School alumnus, is a contemporary piece for eight dancers that incorporates different dance forms to illustrate issues of modern life. The dancers are in small groups, solo, and duets, propelled by the music of Alva Noto, Alberto Iglesias, and Jun Miyake.
Jamar Roberts, a dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, returns with his Gemeos, (Portuguese for twins). Based loosely on his childhood, a dancer growing up with an athletic brother, the piece, which features a male and female dancer, illustrates the individuality of two beings, the energy of youth, and the close nature of siblings. The essence of the piece is captured in its music: horns, bass guitar, percussion, and powerful singing by Afrobeat star, Fela Kuti.
Something Tangible by Ray Mercer is an ensemble piece fashioned into a series of vignettes inspired by everyday emotions. It is accompanied by a diverse range of music, including artists Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Geoff Bennett, and an original score by Bongi Duma.
Three world premieres from the 2016-2017 season are featured for the All New program. Circular by Jae Man Joo, a Princess Grace Award-winning choreographer, is a mix of contemporary and classical ballet, contrasting smooth and sharp movements, and featuring a large ensemble. The music accompanying this piece is diverse and includes Denisov and Handel.
Former Ailey company member, Marcus Jarrell Willis, premieres his Stream of Consciousness, designed to illuminate the inner dialogue of the mind. Both sharp and dreamy, this piece is presented with Max Ritcher’s contemporary take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
In Sketches of Flames, Bridget L. Moore combines flamenco with her African-American and modern dance to present a passionate, graceful ensemble piece punctuated by folk songs and writings by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
This is an exciting program that demonstrates Ailey II’s innovation and diversity. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see this spectacular company perform.
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The performance schedule for this run at the Skirball Center is below:
Contemporary Favorites: In & Out/ Meika, Gemeos/Something Tangible
March 30 at 7:30 pm; April 1 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
All New: Circular/Stream of Consciousness/Sketches of Flames
March 29 at 7:30pm; March 31 at 7:30pm; April 2 at 3:00pm and 7:30 pm
For more information and to buy tickets click here.
Cover: Ailey II in Bridget L. Moore’s ‘Sketches of Flames;’ photo: Kyle Froman.