Ailey II: Young, gifted, talented and thrilling

ZITA ALLEN | 3/16/2017, 2:08 p.m.
March 29 to April 2, the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, also known as Ailey II, swings into New York fresh ...
Ailey II's L.Boyd, D.Rogan, J.Pruitt in Ray Mercer's Something Tangible. Eduardo Patino

three dances in four days.

“It was wonderful,” Pruitt said. “Being part of Ailey II is the greatest blessing ever. Everyone is in a similar place in their life and the energy level is so high because we all want this so much. Also, because we’re a small troupe, everyone is well utilized. It’s fantastic.”

Pruitt hastened to add that the NYU Skirball season is special for another reason. “I am so excited that I get to perform at my alma mater, NYU,” he said.

Imagine 12 dancers hitting the stage all equally excited. Add choreography that delights and challenges them. Stir and what do you get? Powell says, audiences will get an Ailey II season that stacks up as something special as he runs down the list of dances featured during the upcoming season.

On the bill are two different programs—one highlights all new works and the other contemporary favorites. The new works include “Circular,” a blend of classical and contemporary ballet by Princess Grace Award-winning Jae Man Joo, “Stream of Consciousness” by former Ailey dancer Marcus Jarrell Willis, described as an “exploration of the tumultuous monologue within one’s mind,” and “Sketches of Flame,” Bridget L. Moore’s rapturous fusion of flamenco influences with her African-American and contemporary aesthetic.

The program of contemporary favorites includes French choreographer Leila Da Rocha’s unique “Meika,” the return of AAADT dancer Jamar Roberts’ “Gemeos,” set to Fela Kuti’s contagious Afrobeat, Ailey School alum Jean Emile’s poignant “In & Out” with its spicy mix of dance techniques and Ray Mercer’s “Something Tangible,” a reflection on love, passion, fear and self-doubt.

Powell said each program is a carefully chosen recipe for success, explaining that one of the joys of being at the helm of Ailey II is that he gets to choose works that not only challenge the dancers but also thrill the audience.