Alvin Ailey was an African-American choreographer and activist who founded the Alivin Ailey American Dance Theater (1958) and the Ailey School (1969) in New York City. He is credited with helping popularize modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in concert-type performance dance. Ailey then received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988, and in 2014, President Obama selected Ailey as a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
I first became aware of the genius of Alvin Ailey when I learned the main role of Odette / Odile in Le Lac des Cygnes. I was fortunate enough to learn the role of the great dramatic ballerina, Sallie Wilson, who spoke often of working with Alvin Ailey in 1970 in the creation of his magnificent work, The River, and I became an immediate fan of the choreographer after seeing Wilson perform it.
And when I took part in a program featuring Judith Jamison in Ailey’s solo work “Cry” (premiered 1970), I was once again made aware of the innovative genius of this choreographer. I remember standing backstage watching the gorgeous, sculptural female artist, thinking, “This is one of the best performance art pieces I’ve ever seen.” (Jameson became artistic director of the Ailey company from 1989 to 2011).
It was in 1974, inspired by Ailey’s mission to provide dance performances, training and community programs for all, that the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble was created under the direction of Sylvia Waters to combine rigorous touring with extensive community outreach. I was fortunate enough to hire one of the original members of the Ailey Ensemble as a guest lead artist when, prior to the formation of Sierra Nevada Ballet, I co-directed The Reno Ballet with Raphael Barkley in 1995 and 1996. athleticism, artistic nuance and professional good humor were a direct result of Ailey’s experience and made him a fine example to dancers around the world.
Currently headed by artistic director Troy Powell, this second company (now known as Ailey II) continues to thrive. The New York Times said, “There is no such thing as an evening with Ailey II, the younger version of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Ailey II’s 2018-19 tour will reach audiences in dozens of cities around the world, including Nevada’s “Biggest Little Town”.
Thanks to Artown, Woodburn and Wedge, Ailey II will perform at the Pioneer Center in Reno on February 22 at 7:30 p.m.
“I am very excited about this incredible opportunity in Reno,” said Beth Macmillan, Executive Director of Artown.
We are very fortunate to have such a spectacular event, and our community should not fail to see this company that Dance Magazine calls “must see”.
Ailey II performs on Friday, February 2. 10 p.m. 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno. Tickets range from $ 25 to $ 55 with a student price of $ 15.
For tickets, call the Pioneer at 866-553-6605, go online at PioneerCenter.com, or visit the Pioneer Center box office Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). For more information, visit Artown.org or call the Artown office at 775-322-1538.