Alvin Ailey II continues its journey toward the future
Company will perform two Park City concerts
Troy Powell, artistic director of Alvin Ailey II, a component to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, promises something old and something new when the renowned dance company returns to Park City this weekend.
“We usually do three ballets per performance, but this time we’ll bring four ballets for each performance,” Powell told The Park Record during a phone call from his office in New York. “Since we’ve been to Park City before, we like to switch things up a lot.”
The performances, which will be presented by the Park City Institute at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, will run Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25.
Friday’s program will feature Marcus Jarrell Willis’ “Stream of Consciousness,” Leila Da Rocha’s “Meika,” Robert Battle’s “The Hunt” and Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations.”
Saturday’s program will include “Stream of Consciousness” and “Revelations,” as well as other works “In & Out” by Jean Emile and “Gemeos” by Jamar Roberts.
Powell and the Park City Institute selected the programming.
“[Park City Institute] recommended we do ‘Revelations,’ which is our masterpiece, but we like to bring different works so people who have seen us before will get a fresh new look at the company,” Powell said. “Each year we invite emerging choreographers to create new works. These new choreographers we look for offer something different, not only technically, but psychologically into their pieces.”
One of the emerging choreographers is Marcus Jarrell Willis, who created “Stream of Consciousness.”
“Jarrell came from the Ailey School, danced with Ailey II and then danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,” Powell said. “He has an eye for choreography and he is about storytelling.”
“Stream of Consciousness” is a work inspired by the different levels of sleep, and includes sections “Sleepwalker” and “Daydreaming.”
“It examines the thoughts you have when you are in that realm and what happens when you wake up,” Powell said.
One of the more emotionally powerful works in the program is “Gemeos” by Jamar Roberts, another new choreographer.
The Portuguese word “gemeos” means twins. Roberts’ work examines the parallels between dance and sports.
“While Jamar isn’t a twin, the piece talks about his relationship between him, who is a dancer, and his brother, who is an athlete,” Powell said. “While there are many parallels with the dance and athletic careers, we as young kids don’t think about that. We think of dance being about women and tights and we think of athletics being about strength and men.”
“Gemeos” is based on Roberts’ relationship with his brother and how it turned from hostility to harmony.
“Jamar wasn’t close with his brother until his brother got married,” Powell said. “They were both so focused on their own careers, but after years of not speaking with each other, his brother asked Jamar to be in his wedding.”
Relationship is also the subject of Jean Emile’s “In and Out.”
“It goes to look at different levels of how we deal with one another in the world,” Powell said. “There is a segment that deal with how men view women both physically and psychologically and then the roles are reversed.”
Another piece, “The Hunt,” by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle, is a little different because it was created for an all-male cast.
This piece emphasizes the Ailey companies’ reputations for strong male dancers, Powell said.
“This is a three-section work that is very powerful,” he said. “The energy, adrenaline and testosterone of these men are at 100 in the 14 minutes they are on stage.
“[Although] the title itself is self-explanatory, as we performed it, there was something new that emerged,” Powell said. “At first I thought it was about men hunting and the men were very barbaric and strong. But as the work goes on, Robert addresses the idea that when you hunt, you, in turn, are being hunted. So, at any given moment, your prey, or the person you’re hunting with, could turn on you.”
Powell said there is a certain quality to all of the works that will be performed in Park City this year that has become a standard with Ailey II dancers. And they have his full trust regarding their dedication and artistry.
“It’s not that complicated because I think that there is a growth spurt artistically in this generation of dancers each and every day,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have to push them as much as they push themselves. It’s like I’m moving along at their speed.
“While I give them words of inspiration and groom them psychologically, they are passionate about dance,” Powell said. “They are at a place where they are training and growing for that next professional platform. They set the standard for the next generation of dancers who will come next.”
That is evident when the company performs Alvin Ailey’s classic trademark, “Revelations,” which he choreographed in 1960.
The dancers stay true to the works’ original steps and intent, but bring their own interpretations to the work, Powell said.
“This is exactly why Mr. Ailey created ‘Revelations,’” he said. “It was a ballet based on his African-American heritage and modern-dance tradition. But he wanted people to bring their own stories into it when the curtain goes up. Mr. Ailey created it with one story, but wanted each and every dancer to bring their individuality and humanity to it.”
Park City Institute will present Alvin Ailey II at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Tickets range from $29 to $79 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org.
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