Ailey II returns home after tour for NY Season

Ailey II in Kyle “JustSole” Clark's I Am The RoadAiley II returns to the Ailey Citigroup Theater on March 30-April 10 with two programs of premieres and returning audience favorites. The upcoming New York season comes on the heels of the company’s 26-city tour. During a 14-performance engagement held over two weeks, the company’s “off-the-charts energy” (The New Yorker) will be amplified in diverse repertory by emerging and established choreographers, including Jean Emile, Jamar Roberts, Ray Mercer, Kyle “JustSole” Clark, Dwight Rhoden, Manuel Vignoulle and Jennifer Archibald. 


Ailey II is universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today’s most outstanding emerging choreographers. Founded in 1974, the company embodies Mr. Ailey’s pioneering mission of establishing an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. With current Artistic Director Troy Powell at the helm, Ailey II continues to thrive as he brings a fresh dimension to this beloved company.


Ailey II’s annual touring schedule now stretches to Europe and beyond, and the company performs in dozens of cities each year.  The company’s 12 dynamic young dancers come from all over the country, including local talent Samantha Barriento (Queens, NY) and 2015 Princess Grace Fellowship awardee Courtney Celeste Spears (Baltimore, MD).


Ailey II in Jamar Roberts' Gêmeos“The company is very much looking forward to returning to New York after our robust 26-city tour,” says Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell. “This season’s programming offers something for everyone, and we’re proud to be welcoming old, new, and future fans to join us at our home theater.”


The All New program will include four world premieres: In & Out, Gêmeos, Something Tangible and I Am The Road. Choreographer and Ailey School alumnus Jean Emile’s In & Out is a poignant work for eight dancers that gives an unflinchingly honest view of the ups and downs of contemporary life. Drawing on a mix of dance techniques, Emile brings a fresh approach, which is amplified by a varied score that includes music by Alva Noto, Alberto Iglesias and Jun Miyake.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Jamar Roberts makes his Ailey II choreographic debut with his work Gêmeos (Portuguese for “twins.”) Loosely based on the relationship of Roberts and his brother growing up as children – one a dancer, the other an athlete – Roberts illustrates the dynamic between contrasting personalities and how they evolve from hostility to harmony. Using music with heavy percussion, brassy horns, groovy bass guitar and the commanding singing style of Afrobeat star Fela Kuti, Roberts perfectly captures the energy of youth in Gêmeos.


Inspired by everyday emotions that awaken and bring color to the human spirit, choreographer Ray Mercer leads the ensemble cast into a series of vignettes that reflect sensations of love, passion, fear and self-doubt in Something Tangible. The work features a wide range of musical styles that include artists Max Richter, Ólafur Arnalds, Geoff Bennett and an original score by Bongi Duma.


Ailey II in Ray Mercer's Something TangibleIn I Am The Road, a pulsating ensemble work, hip-hop choreographer Kyle “JustSole” Clark treats audiences to a generous glimpse into his life as a dancer. Capturing the struggles and triumphs of a young ambitious artist finding his place in the world, Clark presents his personal journal in dance form. House dance music by Vikter Duplaix, Jeff Samuel, Nuyorican Soul and Markus Enochson illuminate Clark’s depictions of taking risks, falling in love and remaining true to one’s self.


The Returning Favorites program includes highlights from the 2014-15 season: Hissy Fits, Breakthrough and Wings. In Hissy Fits, Dwight Rhoden’s 2006 contemporary ballet, the former Ailey star turned in-demand choreographer and Artistic Director of Complexions, goes beyond mere virtuosic movement to depict the sometimes tumultuous and ambivalent nature of human relationships. J.S. Bach’s piano music provides a powerful backdrop to the high-voltage interplay of five couples, each of whom feels the ripple effect of a series of “hissy fits,” or uncontrollable emotional impulses, that reverberate in this work. 


Manuel Vignoulle’s athletic full-company work, Breakthrough, is set to haunting music by Swedish composer Mikael Karlsson, and is about people trying to break through the heavy weight of conventional behavior and morals in a world where feelings and emotions are prohibited for the sake of an illusory peace. Vignoulle’s diverse international background, first as a dancer and now as a choreographer, informs his creative approach — drawing on both the introspective, conceptual world of European modernism and the more outwardly expressive culture of American dance. (Read Dance Informa’s review of Breakthrough from last year here.)


Rising choreographer Jennifer Archibald explores the intriguing possibility of angels moving among us on earth in her work, Wings – an unabashedly emotional portrayal of interactions between angels and humans. Set to an ambient score by veteran dance composer Michael Wall, Archibald’s movement is ferocious yet vulnerable, showcasing both the dancers’ athletic prowess and raw honesty.


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Photos: Ailey II in Kyle “JustSole” Clark’s I Am The Road (top); Jamar Roberts’ Gêmeos (left); and Ray Mercer’s Something Tangible (right.) Photos by Eduardo Patino.