“Wow factor aplenty,” says Herald Scotland. “Second to none,” gushes Dance Magazine. “The entire company … looks terrific,” proclaims The New York Times.
It’s impressive for any dance company to amass such effusive acclaim. But it’s downright awe-inspiring for a company whose members aren’t even old enough to rent a car.
Formed in 1974 by dance legend Alvin Ailey himself, Ailey II was founded to give promising students at The Ailey School a chance to tour brand-new works and get a taste of life as a professional dancer. Forty-five years later, the company’s reputation is unmatched by any other junior company in the world. Boulder audiences have a chance to see them live on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Macky Auditorium.
“These dancers are young, hungry and passionate,” says Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell. “Every time the curtain opens, they continue to celebrate Mr. Ailey’s legacy by telling their own stories in the most humanistic and honest way.”
At the center of the Boulder performance is “Revelations,” widely considered to be Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece. Choreographed in 1960, at the dawn of the civil rights movement, the piece is an homage to African Americans’ perseverance through hundreds of years of adversity. Through a soundtrack of religious music and movement that’s at once strong and ethereal, “Revelations” explores the pain, joy and hope that African Americans have all experienced. Nearly 60 years later, the work’s themes resonate as clearly as ever.
“‘Revelations’ was born from Mr. Ailey’s blood memories of growing up in Rogers, Texas, where he experienced racism, poverty and other hardships,” Powell says. “He always wanted to touch others’ lives by sharing the story of his.”
Also on the program is “Circular” by Jae Man Joo, a contemporary ballet about the complex range of human emotions and the power of unity, and “Breaking Point” by Renee I. McDonald, an intense modern piece.
“It will have the audience on the edge of their seats,” Powell says. “It captures the fight for our heart’s desires—whether it’s love, hope or just the need to survive. It’s about constantly fighting and reaching for something until you hit that ‘breaking point.’”
The company’s pieces all share a common thread of relatability, covering themes anyone from any background can understand. And it’s certain Alvin Ailey would approve: He once said, “Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.”