Ailey 2

A true masterclass in performance art!

Ailey 2 is a vibrant and electrifying dance ensemble that exemplifies the timeless artistry and boundless creativity of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As the dynamic younger sibling of the renowned Alvin Ailey company, Ailey 2 is a troupe of exceptionally talented and emerging dancers who captivate audiences worldwide with their exuberant performances. With a repertoire that showcases a rich tapestry of dance genres, from contemporary and ballet to jazz and hip-hop, Ailey 2 embodies the spirit of innovation and artistic excellence that has been a hallmark of the Ailey legacy for decades. Each step they take, each movement they create, resonates with passion, precision, and a commitment to celebrating the power of dance as a universal language of expression and it was an absolute pleasure to see them performing at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

I will admit to not being a regular visitor to dance performances, however after my evening with the incredibly talented company of Ailey 2, that will definitely be changing.  We were welcomed to the performance by Artistic Director of Ailey 2, Francesca Harper and Samina Beckford from Dance Consortium who explained all about the companies working together.  It was a delight to see a ‘Curtain Raiser’ ahead of the main performance which showcased 20 young students from the West Midlands region, all of whom exuded professionalism and incredible talent throughout their time on stage.  The rapturous applause was testament to their star quality.

The main show is split into 4 different sections, Enemy in the Figure, Freedom Series, The Hunt and Revelations which is a routine created in 1960 by founder Alvin Ailey and is performed at every Ailey 2 show.  Each and every routine incorporates different music styles and left me captivated at the sheer talent. 

The staging is completely void of any scenery or set pieces with only the lighting altering the atmosphere and being such an integral part of the storytelling throughout each routine.  It really was quite stunning to see how different colours can really capture the mood and elevate the already incredible routines.  Most costumes were monochrome, so with the introduction of coloured lighting it was very effective.

The costuming, in particular for Enemy in the Figure was very impactful. The use of fringing created a much bigger performance with every move amplified through the movement of the material. The quality of choreography of course is second to none with sharp, crisp and clean routines that each company member was able to execute with complete precision.  It’s only right for me to name check all performers in this spectacular show as the commitment and passion they showed was quite breathtaking.

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, along with apprentices Jennifer M. Gerken, Xhosa Scott, Darion Turner and Jordyn White all deserve the quite simply incredible reaction the audience provided.  I’ve never witnessed a reaction like it in live theatre before, however it was totally worthy of the joyous applause.

A highlight for me was a duet performed to ‘Fix Me Jesus’ during 'Revelations'.  I was so engrossed in this beautiful performance and found it incredibly emotional.  I am unsure which two dancers performed this routine; however, it really was quite something.  With the use of gospel and holy blues music, it is no surprise that Revelations remains a constant in the Ailey 2 performances.  There are so many stand out moments scattered throughout the show, however I must also mention 'The Hunt' which showcases an all male troupe.  This particular routine was incredibly impactful, passionate and striking in its composition.

There are so many uplifting moments throughout this whole show and with the use of strong and impactful choreography, it is clear to see why Ailey 2 are at the top of their craft.  It really was a wonderful evening in celebration of dance.  A true masterclass in performance art!

This show was reviewed at Birmingham Hippodrome on the 4th October 2023.  Ailey 2 continue on their tour across the country.  Tickets and more information available here: Dance Consortium – international dance across the uk

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Photo credit: Erin Baiano & Nan Melville

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