BWW Review: AILEY II Graces the Stage with a Night of Premieres
Following their 25-city world tour, Ailey II returned to the Big Apple for their annual New York City season and debut at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, March 29-April 2 2017. The company performed two distinct programs, including four world premieres. Ailey II is a universally renowned group of young performers who are fantastic dancers, with amazing technique and energy. I had the privilege to attend the "All New" program, which truly showcased why they are one of the most popular dance companies in the country.
The evening began with the premiere of Circular by award-winning choreographer and ballet master Jae Man Joo. Joo brings a unique yet distinctive style, with a mix of classical and contemporary ballet while capturing the full circle of human emotions. The movements were mesmerizing and beautiful to watch. The piece was full of circular motions- spins, turns, and twirls- that were perfectly executed by the dancers. There were moments of unison that were fast and exciting, and a lovely, yet powerful duet for men that gave me goosebumps.
The program continued with a new piece entitled Stream of Consciousness by former Ailey II and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company member Marcus Jarrell Willis. Here, Willis brings to life our inner feelings- the monologue within each person's mind. It brought me back to being a high school student and all the thoughts that would race through my head as I walked the halls from class to class, that no one would see. It explored the idea of what's really going on and the emotions we keep hidden in our mind. What a clever concept! I could definitely relate.
The night concluded with a new work, Sketches of Flames by Bridget L. Moore, the new Artistic Director of Dallas Black Dance Theater. Moore brings Spanish influences and aesthetics in an eight-part work that showcases the joys and sorrows of love. The choreography had an essence of a Flamenco feel to it between the hand and arm movements, and a hint of Tango with its sensual aroma. Very well done by both the choreographer and the dancers. It was just stunning to watch. I couldn't take my eyes off the stage.
Since its founding in 1974, Ailey II has gone on to travel across North America and abroad, performing in 20+ cities each year. Under the artistic direction of Troy Powell, the company continues to thrive as he brings a fresh new flare. The troupe of 12 young and fabulous dancers is truly taking things to the next level. They are absolutely gifted and talented as they continue the legacy of Mr. Ailey. This fierce group is without a doubt the next generation of dancers, and ones not to miss.
Ailey II's Lloyd Boyd and Courtney Spears in Jae Man Joo's Circular. Photo by Nan Melville.