By Walter Rutledge
The Ailey II season begins March 23 and run thru April 3 at the Ailey Citigroup Theater 405 west 55th Street at the corner of Ninth Avenue This is not only the company’s return to the theater since the pandemic, but also the debut season for the company’s new Artistic Director Francesca Harper. During the two-week season the company will offer 10 performances and present works by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) Artistic Director Robert Battle, internationally renowned choreographer William Forsythe, AAADT principal dancer Yannick Lebrun, Andrea Miller, and Harper.
Harper has curated four programs showcasing her vision and the new direction she plans to lead the Ailey II. Dichotomous is an evening of works curated in the spirit of contrasting elements, and voices. The evening will take us from the dulcet Kathleen Battle, to the powerful drums of Les Tambours du Bronx. This evening will encourage audiences to find inspiration and connections within works that at first glance seem to exist in different worlds.
New Lens will offer a fresh and intimate look at dance through the eyes of three exciting and diverse dance makers. Andrea Miller’s Psūkhe is a visceral and kinesthetic ensemble work. Saa Magni by Yannick Lebrun is a poetic ode to his beloved homeland of French Guiana, and Harper’s New York premiere of Freedom Series described as a “elliptical galaxy”. This program provides a bold, daring, and fresh perspectives by three of the dance world’s current contemporary voices.
Pulse, the title of the third program, promises to present physicality that moves beyond its familiar boundaries. This program is designed to leave the audience on the edge of their seats with an exciting blend physical power and visual wonderment. Works by William Forsythe, Robert Battle, Andrea Miller and Francesca Harper, will reinforce Harper’s credo, “taking risks has an undeniable power that lives within us all”.
On Thursday March 24th there will be a special program celebrating Robert Battle’s tenth anniversary as AAADT artistic director. The program will present seven works including the company premiere of an except of Alleluia (originally choreographed in 2002 for his then company Battleworks), and all female version of The Call. Battle will also present the company/world premiere of Starlight, which was inspired by his relationship with former Ailey school director Denise Jefferson.
It’s always exciting to watch artists careers evolve; it is especially gratifying when a truly gifted and diverse artist joins a world class team/organization. Harper has always courageously tested her own limits. Now at the helm of Ailey II she will share her many gifts with the young artists under her guardianship.
Ailey II Artistic Director Emerita Sylvia Waters found the right blend of director, mentor, taskmaster, historian, and dance mom. During her thirty-eight-year tenure the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble evolved into Ailey II, an innovative force of its own. This is the Company that introduced present Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director to the Ailey Citigroup Theater in 1999. Now it is Harper’s Francesca’s turn to share her expertise and vision, while developing a new direction for the next generation of dance.
For program information and to purchase tickets visit alvinailey.org › about › ailey-ii.
In Photo: 1) Ailey II Company, Artistic Director Francesca Harper and Rehearsal Director Lakey Evans Pena 2) Ailey II Artistic Director Francesca Harper 3) Ailey II in Andrea Miller’s Psukhe 4) Ailey II Artistic Director Emerita Sylvia Waters
Photo by 1.2, 3) Nir Arieli 4) Eduardo Patino
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