Ailey II—Always a sure bet!
CHARMAINE PATRICIA WARREN | 5/18/2017, midnight
Ailey II, the revered junior company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented their first season at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, March 29 through April 2. Under Artistic Director Troy Powell and newly appointed Rehearsal Director Fana Fraser, the dancers were the draw and did not disappoint. The dancers inlcuded Tara Bellardini, Lloyd A. Boyd III, Khalia Campbell, Gabriel Hyman, Yazzmeen Laidler, Jacob Lewis, Jessica Amber Pinkett, Jacoby Pruitt, Martell Ruffin, Courtney Celeste Spears, Christopher R. Wilson and Terri Ayanna Wright. This time around, the works ran a close parallel, and on the “All New” program, Jae Man Joo’s “Circular,” Marcus Jarrell Willis’ “Stream of Consciousness” and Bridget L. Moore’s “Sketches of Flames,” all made in 2016, drew some attention.
After a slow start, in soft greys to set the mood, Joo’s contemporary ballet, “Circular,” described as a “…conversation through movement…,” showed as the dancer’s dance. In different groupings, they easily wove between contrasting dagger-like classical lines and morphing angles to defy space and time. And as precise as small group dances were, when all 12 dancers were together, their chorus of gestures was even more sculptural. Willis, a former Ailey company member, presented “Stream of Consciousness,” which was driven by the music (Max Richter’s propulsive take on Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”). Recently appointed Executive Director of Dallas Black Dance Theater Bridget L. Moore’s “Sketches of Flames” was hot, and the dancers took on the role of Gypsies and gauchos. The flamenco theme was emboldened by the fiery red costumes, gloves, sombreros, heels, red roses and a bullfight, and the dancers peppered all that with their high energy and exciting partnering. Moore matched the spirit of flamenco and tempered the experience with music from an array of passion-driven folk songs.
The other program, “Contemporary Favorites,” included Leila Da Rocha’s “Meika,” Jean Emile’s “In & Out,” Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Jamar Roberts’ “Gêmeos” (Portuguese for twins) and Ray Mercer’s “Something Tangible” from the 2015-2016 season.