Ailey II in Francesca Harper’s Luminous. Photo by Nir Arieli

Ailey II, the next generation of dance, will mark its 50th anniversary of bringing “off-thecharts energy” to the stage by embarking on a world tour from January 20 – May 19, inspiring audiences from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Kansas City, Missouri.

The gifted ensemble of rising stars will then return home for a celebratory New York season at The Joyce Theater, April 9 – 14, 2024.

The second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present a diverse repertory including two world premieres, by Artistic Director Francesca Harper and the dynamic duo of Baye & Asa, alongside repertory favorites and revered classics during the 2024 tour and New York City engagement.

For half a century, Ailey II has merged the spirit and energy of the country’s best early-career dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today’s most outstanding and emerging choreographers. Founded in 1974, the company embodies Alvin Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people.

Under the leadership of Sylvia Waters, who served as artistic director for 38 seasons, Ailey II flourished into one of the most popular modern dance companies, providing a bridge between The Ailey School and the professional dance world. On its golden anniversary, Ailey II continues to thrive, with artistic director Francesca Harper bringing a fresh dimension to the company as she propels a beloved tradition forward.

“As we celebrate this monumental 50th anniversary, I am honored to continue Alvin Ailey’s mission of fostering and nurturing the next generation of bright young artists,” Francesca Harper said. “From world premieres to repertory favorites, this season’s programming offers something for everyone. These 12 exceptional dancers look forward to sharing their artistry, vitality, and virtuosity at theaters across the nation and throughout the world, in works that will move our audiences deeply and leave them forever transformed.”

Stages will spring to life with Francesca Harper’s Luminous, a work paying homage to five decades of Ailey II and the artists who have paved the way for future generations. Underscored by an original composition and vocals by Nona Hendryx, the work weaves iconic moments of the past into a tapestry of the periods when the company influenced the cultural landscape. These stories and memories testify to the continuing commitment of Ailey II under Harper to break boundaries, push artistic limits, advocate for social change, and highlight the power of community.

Baye & Asa’s John 4:20 expands a duet the choreographers originally created in 2018 to explore their shared history and divergent identities. In a fusion of dance styles that incorporates hip hop, African, and contemporary modern, this new iteration features a cast of six, depicting various relationships and groups of people struggling to uncover the reality of cruelty that is around us and the necessity for empathy.

In addition to these exciting premieres, the season will include new productions of Ailey Highlights, a collection of excerpts from three classics choreographed by Alvin Ailey between 1958 and 1972, and Judith Jamison’s Divining, a solo excerpted from her first major work as a choreographer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, created in 1984 at the request of her mentor, Alvin Ailey.

Set to a score of North African, Central African, and Latin rhythms, Divining builds on African dance idioms to create a striking, pulsating modern dance work. Ailey II’s touring repertory also features Freedom Series by Francesca Harper, Enemy in the Figure (excerpt) by William Forsythe, as well as Revelations—the must-see American masterpiece by Alvin Ailey.

After the conclusion of the first leg of the 2024 tour, Ailey II returns to New York to join legendary companies whose founders made the 92nd Street Y their homes for a landmark 150th Anniversary celebration on March 12 at the Kaufmann Concert Hall. Ailey II will perform an Ailey Classics program which includes excerpts of Blues Suite, the ballet that launched the sensational Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.


This article was provided courtesy of Alvin Ailey

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