Modern dance company Ailey 2 will bring captivating performances full of grace, strength and soul to Milton Keynes this month.
Ailey 2 – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s second company – is known for merging the creative vision of exceptional choreographers with the energy and talent of the next generation of dance artists. Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary and keen to share the famous Ailey spirit with new audiences, Ailey 2 is back in the UK for the first time since 2011.
Twelve incredible young dancers are taking to the stage at twelve regional venues, including Milton Keynes Theatre on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 September. They will dance an exhilarating programme of four works, which includes a timeless classic devised by Alvin Ailey himself.
The programme will open with an excerpt from artistic director Francesca Harper’s Freedom Series. Created on the company in 2021, and developed in collaboration with the dancers, this futuristic work, which is set to a blend of acoustic and electronic sounds, examines identity and community. It promises to travel through a landscape of memories and embody ‘a hybrid world where the past strives to influence the future’.
Next up will be The Hunt by Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This athletic work considers the parallels between modern sports and the rituals of the gladiators, revealing the predatory side of human nature and the primitive thrill of the hunt. It was originally choreographed, in 2001, for six male dancers, but it is being performed by an all-female cast on the Ailey 2 UK tour.
An invigorating excerpt from William Forsythe’s Enemy in the Figure will showcase the formidable skills and vitality of the Ailey 2 dancers. They will perform the intensely propulsive central section of this work, which Forsythe created for Ballet Frankfurt in 1989. The choreography is driven by a percussive and rhythmic electronic score, as is the radical lighting design.
The programme will be rounded off with the enduring classic Revelations. Choreographed by Alvin Ailey when he was just 29 years old, this masterpiece has been seen by more than 23 million people in 71 countries since its 1960 premiere. Set to gospel songs and devised to explore the deepest reaches of the soul, it is a tribute to both African American culture and Ailey’s genius.
The dancers: Andrew Bryant, Spencer Everett, Jaryd Farcon, Maya Finman-Palmer, Patrick Gamble, Alfred L. Jordan II, Kiri Moore, Corinth Moulterie, Kali Marie Oliver, Tamia Strickland, Kayla Mei-Wan Thomas and Maggy van den Heuvel.
Ailey 2 is touring nationwide thanks to support from Dance Consortium, which invites must-see international contemporary dance companies to visit venues across the UK. The regional theatres that are part of the consortium unite for the benefit of dance-loving and dance-learning audiences. Past Dance Consortium offerings have included tours by creative circus company The 7 Fingers and South African choreographer Dada Masilo.
Ailey 2 UK Tour 2023 Programme:
Freedom Series excerpt (15 minutes) / pause / The Hunt (14 minutes)
Interval (15 minutes)
Enemy in the Figure excerpt (18 minutes)
Interval (15 minutes)
Revelations (36 minutes)
Running time: Approximately 1 hour 55 minutes, with two intervals.
*Production photography by Nir Arieli.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 30 September 2023: Read my review of Ailey 2 at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.