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Experience the new faces of dance: Ailey II comes to Kahilu Theatre

Updated: 
February 17, 2017 - 2:05am

Albert Einstein said dancers are the athletes of God. After watching the dancers of Ailey II perform, audience members will have no doubt this is true. Known globally for fusing together the strong performances of young dancers, with the creativity and spirited devotion of today’s up and coming choreographers, Ailey II brings its artistic vision to Kahilu Theatre at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

“Ailey II is essentially the junior company Alvin Ailey Dance Company and is composed of younger dancers,” said second year dancer Gabriel Hyman. “There are six men and six women. The goal of the company is to prepare younger dancers for a professional career in another company after Ailey II.”

Troy Powell, Ailey II artistic director, is noted as bringing fresh ideas and new layers to the company.

“There’s nothing like an evening spent with Ailey II, the younger version of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,” The New York Times said. Ailey II is called “second to none” by Dance Magazine.

“Ailey II performs as much as the first company, but we reach different audiences and different theaters that the first company may not reach,” said Hyman. “We have the same rigorous schedule and perform in the same countries, we’re just a smaller and younger company.”

Ailey II was founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. The company’s mission is to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. From 1974 to 2012, Alvin Ailey was under the direction of Sylvia Waters and became one of the most well-known modern dance companies in the world. The company is known for its extensive community outreach programs and rigorous touring schedule.

The mother dance company of Ailey II is Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which first performed in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. It was led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers.

That initial performance is considered a game-changer for the history of dance in America.

Since, Ailey has performed for approximately 25 million audience members in 48 states and more than 70 countries. They have also performed for millions more people through film, TV and online media platforms.

In 2008, Congress designated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre as a “vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

“Ailey II will perform three pieces on Saturday evening,” said Hyman, referring to “Circular,” “Stream of Consciousness,” and “Sketches of Flames.” “The program that the audience will be seeing is all a part of our new repertoire. Each year, we learn four new repertoires for a total of 12 pieces in our repertoire. The three we will perform are all really different, which is really cool for the audience members. They’ll experience contemporary ballet, flamingo, jazz, and contemporary dance mixed with some quirky humor. A little combination of everything, so it’s really well-rounded.”

Princess Grace Award-winning choreographer Jae Man Joo’s “Circular” is a heartfelt conversation through movement. The Korean-born Joo’s distinctive choreographic style — a blend of classical and contemporary ballet — is showcased in this large ensemble work that captures the full circle of human emotions. The melodic soundscape is by a diverse group of composers including Denisov and Handel.

“Stream of Consciousness,” by former Ailey company member Marcus Jarrell Willis, gives physical life to our inner thoughts. Willis weaves six simple gestures into “the stream,” the tumultuous monologue within each person’s mind. Set to a contemporary reimagining of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Max Richter, this work echoes the tension and poignancy of the music’s ever-changing tides.

“In Sketches of Flames,” Bridget L. Moore fuses flamenco influences with her African-American and contemporary aesthetic to create a rapturous ensemble dance. Set to a series of passionate folk songs and drawing upon the writings of Federico García Lorca and others, each section of this eight-part work depicts a different facet of the joys and sorrows of love.

Tickets range in price from $20 to $69 and can be purchased at online at www.kahilutheatre.org. ■