TACOMA, WASH.- 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 choreographer, Tacoma Arts Live presents two shows with Ailey II at the Pantages Theater on Sat. March 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday March 3 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets start at $19 and are on sale now.
Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, the company embodies the mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. Under the direction of Sylvia Waters from 1974 to 2012, Ailey II flourished into one of the most popular modern dance companies, combining a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs.
For instance, preceding their two public performances, Ailey II will also be performing in two education matinees at Tacoma Arts Live for local students.
With Artistic Director Troy Powell at the helm, Ailey II thrives as he offers a fresh dimension. Dance Magazine calls Ailey II “second to none,” and The New York Times declares, “There’s nothing like an evening spent with Ailey II, the younger version of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.”
“This is a special year for Ailey II and the Ailey organization at large,” said Powell. “As the second company heads into its 45th year and the organization celebrates its 60th Anniversary, it seems only fitting to bring in works by choreographers from the Ailey family – Uri Sands, Bradley Shelver, Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle, and myself.”
Uri Sands, in collaboration with the dancers of Ailey II, created Tracking Suffering Smiling, a work that braids together ballet, modern, and urban dance techniques. The soundtrack, ranging from The O’Jays to Pharrell and Snoop Dogg, underscores the powerful movement which examines racial, sexual, and economic divisions in our world today.
South African-born Bradley Shelver’s high-energy Where There Are Tongues is inspired by the idea that we are all in this world together, succeeding or failing as a collective. The rhythmically complex music, by French a cappella group Lo Còr De La Plana, couples with Shelver’s quirky style to make dance theater that will set pulses racing.
An early signature work by Robert Battle, Flock depicts a community of believers under the control of a charismatic but flawed leader. The percussive score, composed by the Scottish virtuoso Evelyn Glennie, delivers intense emotions that mirror Battle’s distinctive, hard-hitting choreography.
Troy Powell’s picturesque duet Ebb and Flow – set to Samuel Barber’s most famous work, “Adagio for Strings” – calls to mind the rush and calm of the ocean tide. This non-narrative work matches the emotional impact of Barber’s lyrical music as two beings come together as one.
“I had the pleasure of dancing with Uri Sands in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the ’90s, a time during which the Company went on a historic tour to South Africa. While there, then-Artistic Director Judith Jamison handpicked Bradley Shelver from an outreach activity to receive a scholarship to The Ailey School, where he attended before joining Ailey II. Both men have become outstanding choreographers, and I’m proud to welcome them home. I’m also thrilled to bring another breathtaking work by Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle into the repertory. And of course, after six years, I’m excited to unveil my first world premiere since becoming the Artistic Director of this extraordinary company.”
In addition, six new dancers – Grace Bergonzi, Leonardo Brito, Caroline Theodora Dartey, Amarachi Valentina Korie, Alisha Rena Peek, and Marcel Wilson, Jr. – join the six returning members – Antuan Byers, Kyle H. Martin, Corrin Mitchell, Adrien Picaut, Arianna Salerno, and Marcus Williams. Along with the three world premieres, Ailey II’s touring repertory will include Breaking Point by Renee McDonald, Circular by Jae Man Joo, Road To One by Darrell Grand Moultrie, Touch & Agree by Juel D. Lane, Virtues by Amy Hall Garner, and additional works by members of the Ailey family – Gêmeos by Ailey star Jamar Roberts, Stream of Consciousness by former Ailey dancer Marcus Willis, The Hunt andTakademe by Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle, and Revelations – the must-see masterpiece by Alvin Ailey himself. For more information on the tour, visit alvinailey.org.