Often called the younger version of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II embodies the spirit and energy of its youthful dancers and shares the visions of some of today’s emerging choreographers.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents Ailey II at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on February 13 in a program of several contemporary dances and one masterpiece by Alvin Ailey, who founded his company in the late 1950s in New York City with a group of African-American modern dancers.
Troy Powell, a former member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II’s current artistic director, is delighted to showcase “Revelations,” which was choreographed by Ailey in 1960, “Breaking Point” by choreographer Renee I. McDonald and Jae Man Joo’s piece “Circular” during the Santa Fe performance.
“The primary challenge for “Revelations” is upholding the legacy of this 1960 masterpiece,” Powell says via e-mail from France. “Mr. Ailey choreographed the work at the cusp of the Civil Rights movement to celebrate the African-American heritage. Like many of his early works, “Revelations” was born from his blood memories of growing up in rural Texas.”
The main challenge for “Breaking Point,” which premiered in 2017, was the process. McDonald came into the studio and gave the dancers the choreography in a matter of days. “Renee laid it all on the table in a week,” Powell says. “This really made the dancers not only think faster but it kept them on their toes.”
“Circular” blends classical and contemporary movements in a work that captures the full circle of human emotions. The dance’s soundscape is by a diverse group of composers including Denisov and Handel.
Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Ailey II often travels the globe. The company’s 2018 season features performances in Europe and throughout the U.S.
“I get so inspired by watching them (the dancers) be challenged, watching the way they approach every movement and mostly watching them grow,” Powell adds. “It’s an honor to serve as artistic director of Ailey II.”