Students, Community Enjoys Ailey II Performances
CLARKSDALE – Local students and community members witnessed the art of dance first hand during two free performances from Ailey II held at Coahoma Community College Tuesday.
The second company to the world-renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Ailey II is a New York-based dance company geared towards young dancers from hoping to take their profession to the next level.
“What makes this company so unique is that these are young dancers who are in their prime, reaching for the professional field,” said Troy Powell, Ailey II’s artistic director.
“90 percent of our dancers go on to work with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, produce films, become choreographers or start their own companies. When we started as a company in 1974, it started as a small workshop company. Now, we’re traveling all over the world, and Ailey II has found its own identity and gained its own popularity as a professional company and not just a training company.”
A matinee performance for students held earlier in the afternoon included three shortened versions of the dance acts Alvin Ailey’s “Streams”, Robet Battle’s “WE” and Ailey’s classic and a crowd favorite
“Revelations”. In addition to the performances, students enjoyed the chance to get up on stage and try their hand at some choreographed moves with one of the dancers.
“I hope that the students took with them the fact that work makes the performance. If you continue to work hard, if you don’t give up—you will succeed,” said Powell.
“We’re not trying to necessarily encourage them to be dancers, but we’re just trying to talk to them about how we are taking our path and succeeding in what we want to do. So, whatever they want to do, just stay focused, get educated, and never give up.”
Later that night, community members as well as many of the students came back to enjoy the full-length version of the dance acts, which also included a performance of Benoit-Swan Pouffer’s “Rusty”. Many left thoroughly impressed by what they saw.
“What a wonderful, cultural event,” said CCC’s Librarian Rose Lockett. “The community was thrilled to come out and witness such a great performance tonight. I’ve witnessed several performances in the past, and this one was just a great.”
“We’re excited to have the community to come out and support us. What we’re trying to do is change perspectives. We’re trying to change lives and educate our community,” said Powell.
“When Alvin Ailey started the company he wanted to celebrate his African American heritage and express the modern culture and his experiences through dance. This is not just a dance company. We’re out here telling stories, and we’re out here touching people because what we do is relatable.”
The Ailey II performance was sponsored by CCC’s Lyceum and the Mississippi Festival.
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