Ailey 2 is back in the UK for a 12-venue tour
Ailey 2, the next generation of dance, is back in the UK for the first time in over a decade. The tour will feature 12 exceptional young dancers in works by William Forsythe, Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle and the company’s new artistic director Francesca Harper. Ailey 2 will engage in a 12-venue tour from 19 September to 28 October with a UK premiere at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on 19 September.
As Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater departs the UK following performances at the Edinburgh International Festival and Sadler’s Wells, the incredible young dancers of Ailey 2 will embark on a 12-venue tour presented by Dance Consortium.
Ailey 2, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, is known for bringing together the creative vision of exceptional choreographers with the spirit, energy and talent of the next generation of dance artists. The result is captivating performances of grace, strength and soul, shot through with the unique Ailey spirit.
The company’s new artistic director Francesca Harper has put together an exhilarating repertoire featuring four works: excerpts from her own Freedom Series and William Forsythe’s Enemy in the Figure along with The Hunt, choreographed by Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Revelations¸ Alvin Ailey’s 1960 masterwork and a signature piece of all the Ailey companies.
Revelations was choreographed by Ailey when he was just 29 years old. 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, will be performed by an all-female cast for the first time in the UK. It 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.
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.
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.
The company has an extensive community outreach programme. For this Dance Consortium UK tour, the programme includes masterclasses, open rehearsals and workshops alongside special projects being hosted by member venues as part of the Ailey Project UK.
Dance Consortium is a group of 19 large-scale theatres with a mission to bring the best international dance to stages across the UK and Ireland. Visit https://danceconsortium.com/ to learn more about Ailey 2’s UK tour.