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Ailey II Dance Company Returns to Center for Performing Arts Oct. 15

Ailey II's Meagan King, Travon M. Williams. Photo by Nir Arieli_3279 hi res

(For Immediate Release – October 3, 2022) The Ailey II dance company is a visceral, life-changing experience that merges all that is the original Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with emerging choreography full of light, movement, love, joy, pain, reverence, and heart. The universally renowned second company to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returned to Governors State University (GSU) Center for Performing Arts (CPA) for one night only on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Founded by Alvin Ailey as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble in 1974, Ailey II embodies the founder’s pioneering mission to establish a community that provides dance training, community programs and performances for all. So it is no surprise that prior to the October 15 show, Ailey II hosted a masterclass for GSU Theatre and Performance Studies Dance Company students.

Assistant Professor of Dance and Faculty Advisor to the GSU Dance Company Megan Lindsay shared, “The masterclass provided an incredible opportunity for students to learn from one of the nation's leading and most beloved contemporary dance companies. Our dance students trained in a variety of styles to become versatile, adaptive, and expressive artists. Dance is a universal physical language; the more languages one knows, the more one can communicate via movement in a variety of performative spaces. The class supported our students in the areas of developing technique, style, and personal self-expression.” 

Ailey II has grown into one of the most popular modern dance companies, known for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dancers with the passion and creative vision of emerging choreographers. Dance Magazine called Ailey II "second to none," and The New York Times declared, "There's nothing like an evening spent with Ailey II, the younger version of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater."

In September 2021, Francesca Harper stepped into the role of Artistic Director of Ailey II, succeeding Sylvia Waters who was selected by Mr. Ailey and served that role for the first 38 seasons. Ms. Harper has trained at the Ailey School and has choreographed for both Ailey companies and brings fresh perspectives to Ailey’s legacy while propelling the company forward.

Ailey II company members included Nicholas Begun, Spencer Everett, Jaryd Farcon, Maya Finma-Palmer, Patrick Gamble, Meagan King, Kali Marie Oliver, Tamia Strickland, Christopher Taylor, Maggy van den Heuvel, Chicago-native Travon M. Williams, and Rachel Yoo.

The touring repertory included a new piece entitled “mediAcation” choreographed by Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish along with favorites such as “The Hunt” choreographed by Artistic Director Robert Battle and restaged by Elisa Clark, exploring the predatory side of human nature from the primitive thrill of the hunt to modern sports against a thundering percussion soundtrack.

Also featured is “Psūkhe” taken from an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘life’s breath, spirit, and soul” and the origin of the word “psyche.” Choreographed by artistic director of GALLIM DANCE, Andrea Miller, this energetic dance included complex solos set to the electronic music of Nicholas Jaar. ”Enemy in the Figure,” an intensely propulsive central section of William Forsythe’s eponymous work also took the stage.

Ailey II’s engagement was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council and the Crane Group.

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