Ailey II, the second company of the storied Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, performs at the DeBartolo Performing Art Center on October 7–8, 2022. The next generation of dance will thrill Presenting Series audiences with works created by three of this cultural community’s leading choreographers.
The program, Legacy/Future, includes Artistic Director Francesca Harper’s Freedom Series, created in collaboration with Ailey II dancers as an exploration of identity and community, and Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle’s fast-paced Takademe and The Hunt performed to a thundering percussion soundtrack by Les Tambours du Bronx. The cultural treasure of performance repertory, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, closes each night in tribute to the founder’s genius.
“This is one of the country’s leading young dance companies. The significance of these performances, after we first welcomed the original company to our stage nearly a decade ago, can’t be overstated. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and a must-see for anyone who likes dance or is curious about the arts,” said Sean Martin, associate director of programming and engagement.
The company’s lasting impact will also result from two planned dance masterclasses, including one for students at Clay High School. Dance masterclasses offer an opportunity for area dance students and, whenever possible, community members to take classes led by some of the most talented and creative artists in the world of dance. “It’s important for us to bring artists into the community,” said Martin. “We have a strong, decade-long relationship with the South Bend Community School Corporation arts magnet programs. October’s masterclass is the first time since the pandemic shutdown that we’ve been able to bring dance and a company of Ailey II’s relevance and stature into a public school. We’re pleased to partner on such a fantastic opportunity for Clay dance students.”
Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Ailey II merges the spirit and energy of the country’s finest early-career dance talent with the extraordinary vision of today’s emerging choreographers. The company embodies Ailey’s pioneering mission of establishing an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. Selected as the company’s founding artistic director, Sylvia Waters held the role for Ailey II’s first 38 seasons as it flourished into one of the most popular dance companies.
In September 2021, Harper, who trained at The Ailey School and has choreographed for both Ailey companies, was named artistic director. Her Ailey homecoming inspired her piece Freedom Series.
The company’s repertory has also included works by dance masters Talley Beatty, Donald Byrd (Presenting Series artist 2009, 2012), Ulysses Dove, George W. Faison, Lar Lubovitch, and Judith Jamison, as well as works by rising choreographers such as Sidra Bell, Jae Man Joo, Carlos dos Santos, and Christopher L. Huggins. Ailey II’s 12 rising stars inspire audiences in dozens of cities across the globe.