Troy Powell: Ailey II's new artistic director makes NY debut
CHARMAINE PATRICIA WARREN Special to AmNews | 3/18/2013, 12:32 p.m.
March 13-24 marks the New York debut of Ailey II, the second company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The newly appointed artistic director, Troy Powell, will lead the two programs, "All New" and "Returning Favorites." Powell brings varied works together in "All New"--Malcolm Low's "One Forgotten Moment," Benoit Swan-Pouffer's "Rusty," Amy Hall Garner's "Virtues" and Jessica Lang's "Splendid Isolation II" ("The Calling"). For "Returning Favorites," there is Ailey's "Quintet," Judith Jamison's "Divining" and Powell's "The External Knot."
Powell shared some thoughts about his New York debut in a telephone conversation with the AmNews.
Amsterdam News: Are you nervous about your New York debut?
Troy Powell: A little, but a good nervous. I'm really looking forward to the season.
You were appointed in July 2012, so your actual debut was outside of New York in September 2012, correct?
Yes, we were presented by Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell of the Dance Department at Towson University. She is a former Ailey company member and one of my best friends. I felt good because it was almost like we had been doing this exchange for years because of our relationship.
AmNews: Did you have [rehearsal director] Alia Kache on board at that point?
I did. She started with us on the previous tour in Europe to get her feet wet. It was me, Sylvia [Waters] and Alia.
AmNews: Why did you choose Alia?
I interviewed several people to get a feel of what they were up to, if they fit this job description, and asked how they saw themselves in this position. Alia has grace, poise and she is intelligent, and at that time, she had had a professional career as a performer and choreographer and ran a company. She was the right fit; I was really confident with her.
AmNews: Have there been any surprises since you've been in this new position?
I had been the associate director for almost 12 years and had seen a lot of surprises, which is normal. It's a young company ... and I'm working with dancers who are talented and passionate, but they are still learning about themselves. When I was assisting Sylvia, I wasn't as hands-on with that aspect. They looked up to her; she definitely had the ability to handle the dancer's situations. Now that I am hands-on, I'm beginning to learn how to deal with their situations. It's a challenge, but it's a good challenge. They are all very polite, and as humans, we all have our thing.
AmNews: Are you saying you have another title--therapist? Father?
I really do feel that. I was the guy in the wing, the guy that would stand back and watch. I never really said much as a dancer, choreographer or even as associate artistic director. I was literally Sylvia's right arm, but if dancers asked for advice, I would give it to them. Now I find that not only am I teaching them, I'm learning. It's the best feeling.
AmNews: Tell me about your choice of choreographers.