After a 38-year stand as artistic director, Sylvia Waters has stepped down from the helm of Ailey II, making Troy Powell the second artistic director of the school in 40 years. Ailey II, founded in 1974, is a sister company to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Ailey II began as an outreach program offering workshops and mini-performances to inner-city kids. As a premature program, Ailey II has grown to become a paramount company, raising 12 of the finest students hand-selected each year from the Alvin Ailey School. Over the span of two years, the company studies Alvin Ailey’s “traditional” work to enhance performance and main stage presence. Ailey II continues to write history as a transitional company to train the best dancers for the professional world, from Dallas Black to Broadway.
The 2014 Ailey II production will introduce four well-rounded ballets, touching on classic, abstract and modern contemporary, with hints of jazz, African and hip hop, using movement and storytelling. In recent years and with the helping hand of Powell’s “fresh new vision,” Ailey II has begun featuring personal envisions of the choreographer and allowing the dancers to bring who they are to the stage. The company’s latest work hopes to change the perspective of audiences who don’t really know what to expect, so everyone can relate to the stories shared.
With the ever-evolving nature of dance, Powell upholds Mr. Ailey humanistic vision with honour and works true to its name with this year’s company masterpiece: one of Ailey’s 79 preserved pieces (a traditional revelation) rooted in gospel, blues and spirituality. Ailey’s strongest work was created between the ‘60s and the ‘80s and Powell believes that even today’s modern minds can narrate early primal dance expressions.
This year’s international tour kicks off in Neuss, Germany, on January 30, and they will travel through 17 cities with 18 ballets in their repertoire. In Calgary and Edmonton, Ailey II will be presented to you by the Alberta Ballet, with one solid program consisting of four different pieces over six days. Experience some of New York’s youngest dance legends live of stage at the Jubilee Auditorium from February 20-22.
Ailey II will take place from February 14-15 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (Edmonton) and on February 20-22 at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (Calgary).
By Callie Modeland
Photos: Eduardo Patino