Ailey II dancers to perform at Governors State

October 27, 2011 4:22:24 AM PDT
Ailey II performs at The Center at Governors State University in University Park Friday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m.

The Illinois Arts Council is sponsoring this special performance. Tickets range in price from $15 to $53, and student tickets for this family-friendly show are $28. Tickets are available by calling (708)-235-2222 or at

Ailey II is universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country's best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today's most outstanding emerging choreographers. Alvin Ailey personally appointed former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member Sylvia Waters as Ailey II's artistic director in 1974. Under her direction, Ailey II has flourished into one of the most popular dance companies in the country.

The program for Ailey II's performance at Governors State University includes:

The Chicago premiere of "Reference Point" (2011) choreographed by Troy Powell. In "Reference Point," Powell uses the center of the stage as a point of departure for the full ensemble piece. Each time the dancers dance inside the center of the stage they gain restoration of energy, healing, spiritually and humanity. When outside the center of the stage, all of those characteristics become exaggerated and more powerful. Throughout the five section ballet, the various intentions of each dancer are illustrated ranging from confusion, competition, peace, celebration and individuality.

"Echoes" (2008) choreographed by Thang Dao. "Echoes" began as a depiction of haunting memories, but this poignant ballet has since taken on a life of its own; the echoes of memories cascade into the distant past while pervading our awareness of the present.

Alvin Ailey's masterpiece "Revelations" (1960). Using African American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues, this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. Alvin Ailey said that one of America's richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African American: "sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful." This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey's genius.

Sylvia Waters joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1968, touring as a principal dancer with the Company throughout the United States, South America, Europe, North Africa and the Soviet Union until becoming the Artistic Director of Ailey II. In 1997, she received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York at Oswego. She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. In the fall of 2003, Dance Theater Workshop presented Waters with a New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award for Sustained Achievement in recognition of her outstanding commitment to young and emerging artists. In 2008, Waters received the Legacy Award as part of the 20th Annual International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) Festival, and the prestigious Dance Magazine Award. In August, the Ailey organization announced that Waters will retire on June 30, 2012, from her position as Artistic Director of Ailey II.

To lead the company forward, Waters named Troy Powell, the veteran Ailey dancer, teacher, choreographer and Ailey II Associate Artistic Director since 2003, to be her successor. Powell is now Artistic Director Designate of Ailey II and will assume his new role as Artistic Director on July 1, 2012. A native New Yorker, Powell joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1991. He toured throughout the United States, South America, Europe and South Africa for ten years before becoming a master teacher at The Ailey School and resident choreographer of Ailey II. Powell has choreographed ballets for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Dallas Black Dance Theater, National Dance Company of the Bahamas and Alaska Dance Theater, as well as three episodes of "Sesame Street." His guest artist credits include performing with companies such as Batsheva, Dallas Black Dance Theater and Complexions. Featured in an American Express commercial with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Powell has also appeared on television in George C. Wolfe's "The Colored Museum," the PBS Great Performances: Dance In America special "A Hymn for Alvin Ailey" choreographed by Judith Jamison, and "America's Next Top Model."

Ailey II Dancer Solomon Dumas (Chicago) began his formal dance training under the direction of Randy Duncan, Sandra Kaufman, and Anna Paskevska at the Chicago Academy for the Arts where he studied ballet, jazz and Graham. Dumas appeared as a guest artist with companies including Momenta Dance Company, The Willingham Project and Luna Negra Dance Theater. He performed in an off-Broadway production of "Black Nativity," under the direction of the late Michael Malone and in 2006 danced backup for Donald Lawrence during the Gospel Stellar Awards. Dumas attended New World School of the Arts and was a fellowship student at The Ailey School. He was a member of the Garth Fagan Dance Company and an apprentice with Ailey II. This is his second season with the Company.

Ailey II Dancer Aqura Lacey (Chicago) was raised in Louisville, KY and began her dance training at the Kentucky Centers ArtsReach program at Louisville Central Community Center under the direction of Geraldine Woods and mentor Aundra Lafayette. She also trained at the Louisville Ballet School as a scholarship recipient. Lacey has attended summer intensives at The Ailey School, Craft of Choreography Conference, and Earl Mosley's Institute of the Arts. She received the Wittenberg Scholarship from the Fund for the Arts Foundation to help supplement her education in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, where she is currently a junior. Lacey has performed works by Camille A. Brown, Ronald K. Brown, John Keen Miller, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. This is her first season with Ailey II.

The Center is located at 1 University Parkway (Governors Highway and University Parkway), 45 minutes south of the Loop, off I-57 at Sauk Trail. Parking is always free.

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