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12 exceptional young dancers present a thrilling mixed bill by William Forsythe, Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle and the company’s new artistic director Francesca Harper
The Lowry, Salford. Friday 13 & Saturday 14 October
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Ailey 2 – the second company of the iconic Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater –returns The Lowry, Salford on 13 & 14 October, its first visit there since 2011. The company’s astonishing young dancers are among the most talented of their generation and the company is renowned for merging their spirit and energy with the creative vision of today’s most outstanding choreographers. The result is captivating performances of grace, strength and soul – shot through with the unique Ailey spirit.
Ailey 2’s new artistic director Francesca Harper, herself an internationally-renowned performer and choreographer, has put together an exhilarating repertoire by a diverse range of choreographers which includes a timeless classic from Alvin Ailey.
Revelations, the company’s signature piece, was choreographed by Ailey when he was only 29 years old in 1960. A life-changing work, it has been seen by more than 23 million people in 71 countries, more than any other modern dance work. Using African American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues, Revelations explores the deepest reaches of the soul. Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African American and this enduring classic is a tribute both to that heritage and Ailey’s genius.
The company will perform the intensely propulsive central section of William Forsythe’s 1989 work, Enemy in the Figure. The choreography is driven by Thom Willem’s percussive and rhythmic electronic score which also influences the radical use of light and shadow in its design. This excerpt puts the formidable dance skills of the Ailey 2 dancers on fine display, giving their craft and vitality an invigorating framework.
Robert Battle is Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. His 2001 classic The Hunt is a primal ritual with a distinctly urban feel fuelled by a thundering percussion soundtrack by Les Tambours du Bronx. This athletic work, originally choreographed for six male dancers, explores the relationship between modern sports and the rites of the gladiators, revealing the predatory side of human nature and the primitive thrill of the hunt. Battle found inspiration for the work in his background in martial arts.
Francesca Harper created her futuristic work Freedom Series on the company in 2021. Inspired by her Ailey homecoming, she has created a landscape of memories, a hybrid world where the past strives to influence the future. Developed in collaboration with the Ailey 2 dancers, Harper’s work examines identity and community. This excerpt is danced to a montage of acoustic and electronic sounds. Freedom Series’ unexpected twists and turns bring tender moments to its intrinsic ferocity.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey 2 have built powerful legacies which have impacted generations. New Ailey 2 artistic director Francesca Harper embodies this heritage. She took her first dance steps at The Ailey School, the official school of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where her mother Denise Jefferson was director from 1984-2010. Harper aims to bring fresh perspectives to Ailey’s legacy, while nurturing new creative voices and propelling the company forward.
Ailey 2 has an extensive community outreach programme including masterclasses, open rehearsals and workshops alongside special projects being hosted by member venues as part of the Ailey Project UK.
The dancers of Ailey 2 for the 2023/24 season are: Andrew Bryant; Spencer Everett; Jaryd Farcon; Maya Finman-Palmer; Patrick Gamble; Alfred L. Jordan II; Kiri Moore; Corinth Moulterie; Kali Marie Oliver; Tamia Strickland; Kayla Mei-Wan Thomas; and Maggy van den Heuvel.
Ailey 2 is at The Lowry, Salford on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th October 2023. For more information and tickets visit www.thelowry.com.
Programme: Freedom Series excerpt (15 mins) / pause / The Hunt (14 mins) / interval (15 mins) / Enemy in the Figure excerpt (18 mins) / interval (15 mins) / Revelations (36 mins)
Running time: 115 minutes
Friday 13 & Saturday 14 October at 7.30pm
Notes to editors
- Dance Consortium is a group of 19 large-scale venues based across the UK and Ireland that have a shared passion for engaging people with the best contemporary dance from across the world. Since its formation in 2000, Dance Consortium has presented over 50 tours by 27 different companies (from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, The Netherlands, South Africa, Taiwan, Israel and the USA). Dance Consortium’s performances and education activities have been experienced by around 750,000 people across all parts of the UK. Dance Consortium receives investment as a national portfolio organisation of Arts Council England.
- Dance Consortium members are Grand Opera House Belfast; Birmingham Hippodrome; Alhambra Theatre, Bradford; Brighton Dome; Marlowe Theatre Canterbury; Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff; Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin; Festival Theatre Edinburgh; Eden Court Inverness; Sadler’s Wells Theatre and The Peacock London; Milton Keynes Theatre; Theatre Royal Newcastle; Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham; Theatre Royal Plymouth; The Lowry Salford; Mayflower Theatre, Southampton; Hull New Theatre; Norwich Theatre Royal; and Wolverhampton Grand.
- Ailey 2 is universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best early-career dance talent with the passion and artistry of today’s most outstanding choreographers. Founded in 1974, the company embodies Alvin Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. Ailey 2 blossomed into one of the most popular dance companies in the county under the leadership of Sylvia Waters, who was selected by Mr. Ailey to be its founding Artistic Director, serving in that role for the Company’s first 38 seasons. With Artistic Director Francesca Harper at the helm since 2021, Ailey 2 continues to thrive as she brings a fresh dimension to this beloved company. The company’s repertory has included works by dance masters Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Donald Byrd, Ulysses Dove, George W. Faison, Lar Lubovitch, Judith Jamison and Ailey’s Artistic Director Robert Battle as well as works by rising choreographers such as Sidra Bell, Jae Man Joo, Carlos dos Santos, and Christopher L. Huggins. Ailey 2’s twelve rising stars inspire audiences in dozens of cities across the globe
- Ailey Project UK was re-launched in 2021 as a three-year programme following a consultation with Dance Consortium member venues and building on previous L&P activity with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The young people worked with so far have had a range of experiences, from an introduction to Horton technique workshop delivered in-person with ex-Ailey dancer, Marcus Jarell Willis, to learning repertoire directly from company dancers, Solomon Dumas and Samantha Figgins, in New York over Zoom. They have taken part in creative tasks and sharings, as well as live and pre-recorded Q&As with current and ex-company dancers, all within a professional dance environment. In 2022, the Ailey Project UK held its first in-person Summer Intensive in partnership with Milton Keynes Theatre. The director of the Ailey School, Tracy Inman, and Ailey Principal Dancer, Yannick Lebrun, led a week-long intensive with pre-professional dancers aged 14-20 from across the UK. In addition, Dance Consortium has worked to connect Black-led dance organisations with international artists and companies, creating a growing network of partners. The Ailey Project aims to redress the balance of opportunity and raise awareness of different career pathways for those who have been historically under-represented in formal contemporary dance training. Through the Ailey Project UK and our other Learning and Participation initiatives, Dance Consortium continues to be a significant contributor to dance talent development in the UK.