(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The recently renovated State Theatre New Jersey presents Ailey II, the next generation of dance featuring a renowned ensemble of 12 rising stars on Thursday, November 10 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $29-$49.
Ailey II, the celebrated second company to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best early-career dance talent with the passion and creative vision of outstanding and emerging choreographers. One of the most popular dance companies in the country, Ailey II combines a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs. The company continues to expand the bridge from the studio to the stage for talented young performers from The Ailey School under the wings of Artistic Director Francesca Harper, who took her first dance steps at the school where her mother was director from 1984-2010.
“I am excited for audiences far and near to experience the power and grace of these 12 superbly gifted dancers in remarkable works by a variety of powerful choreographic voices,” said Artistic Director Francesca Harper. “It’s an honor to lead Ailey II into its next era, keeping Alvin Ailey’s legacy of artistry and generosity moving forward while nurturing the next generation of performing artists on a journey of discovery.”
The Ailey II program includes SAA MAGNI (2019) choreographed by Yannick Lebrun; ENEMY IN THE FIGURE (Excerpt, 1989) with choreography, stage, original lighting, and costume design by William Forsythe; ALLELUIA (2002) choreographed by Robert Battle; and FREEDOM SERIES (2021) choreographed by Francesca Harper.
In ALLELUIA, Robert Battle seamlessly meshes the foot stomping and hand gestures of the Baptist Church with classical Baroque idioms, setting seven dancers robed in white in a sustained burst of motion that builds to an ecstatic finale. Like Alvin Ailey before him, Battle takes inspiration from his church background in this dance of rebirth that parallels the new life Ailey II is embarking on in its next era.
ENEMY IN THE FIGURE (excerpt) is the propulsive central section of William Forsythe’s eponymous work. Originally created in Germany (1989) for his ensemble, Ballet Frankfurt, the full work has been performed in major venues across the globe. Thom Willem’s percussive electronic score was an inspiration for the work’s choreographic invention and the radical use of light and shadow in the original stage design. This excerpt puts the formidable dance skills of the Ailey II dancers on fine display, giving their craft and vitality an invigorating framework.
Francesca Harper’s FREEDOM SERIES travels through a landscape of memories creating a series of vignettes that embody and imagine a hybrid world where memory strives to influence the future. Depicted through this futuristic lens, and developed in collaboration with the Ailey II dancers, Harper’s work examines identity and community. With costumes by designer Elias Gurrola and a score featuring a blend of acoustic and electronic sounds, Freedom Series’ unexpected twists and turns bridge tender moments to its intrinsic ferocity.
The Ailey II dancers include Nicholas Begun, Meagan King, Christopher Taylor, Travon M. Williams, Rachel Yoo Spencer Everett, Jaryd Farcon, Maya Finman-Palmer, Patrick Gamble, Kali Marie Oliver, Tamia Strickland, and Maggy van den Heuvel, who all trained at The Ailey School.
For tickets, more information, or group discounts, call State Theatre Guest Services at 732-246-SHOW (7469) or visit online at STNJ.org. State Theatre Guest Services, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open by phone and email only, Tuesday through Friday from 11:00am to 5:00pm. For in-person purchases, Guest Services is open Tuesday through Friday from 12:00pm to 4:30pm. Additional ticket and transaction fees may apply.
After major renovations, State Theatre New Jersey has reopened and celebrated its 100th Anniversary in December 2021 in a fully renovated theater including newly renovated lobbies, all new restrooms, upgraded HVAC systems, a new elevator for access to all levels, and brand-new theater seats. Originally built as a silent film and vaudeville palace, State Theatre’s historic significance was honored by PBS by featuring it in its documentary series, Treasures of New Jersey, in the fall of 2018. “Treasures of New Jersey: State Theatre New Jersey” can be streamed online.
Today, State Theatre is the largest performing arts center in Central New Jersey and has welcomed more than six million people through its doors since reopening as a non-profit performing arts center in 1988. State Theatre New Jersey is a cornerstone of the cultural vitality of Middlesex County and averages a total economic impact on New Brunswick and the surrounding area of more than $18 million a year. The mainstage programs have featured high-caliber artists such as Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Kevin Hart, Ringo Starr, Melissa Etheridge, John Leguizamo, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Program offerings include Broadway, orchestra, family, dance, comedy, rock/pop, jazz, Performances for Schools, and Sensory-Friendly Performances.
State Theatre New Jersey’s programs are made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.
PHOTO: AileyII: Meagan King. Photo by Nir Arieli