Ailey ll Dance Arrives at Olympia’s Minnaert Center



By Margo Greenman

olympia dance performance
Ailey II in Adam Barruch’s Alchemies
Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino, NYC

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been an internationally renowned, modern dance company since its conception in the late 1950’s. In continuation of the company’s success, founder, Alvin Ailey, formed Ailey ll during the late 1970’s. Ailey ll was aimed toward bringing together the country’s best, young, dancers and pairing them with up-and-coming choreographers. In the years that followed, Ailey II has become one of the most recognized and celebrated dance companies in the United States.

Serving as a stepping stone in which young dancers are able to gain professional, dance experience that eases the transition from the classroom to the stage, Ailey ll has been helping young dancers establish themselves professionally since 1978. Artistic Director for Ailey ll, Troy Powell, says he started at the Ailey School when he was just 9-years-old, and propelled forward joining Ailey ll, then moving on again to join the main company. Having been able to experience each stage of the Ailey process, Powell explains that he understands the support and guidance these young dancers need, and describes his job as being “second nature.”

Powell says that many of Ailey ll’s dancers continue on after their time with the company to dance on Broadway, in film productions, or the Alvin Ailey company. But, often, more important than the dancers that Ailey ll “grooms” are the dancers who move on to become choreographers. “People want to see what’s new, what’s young, what’s fresh – as years go by, that’s what happens with Ailey ll,” explains Powell. In order to keep their performances fresh and current, Ailey ll turns to talented, emerging choreographers.

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Ailey II’s Shay Bland and Jamal White in Jennifer Archibald’s Wings Photo Credit Eduardao Patino, NYC

Combining compelling, choreographed works with the talent of Ailey ll’s dancers makes for entertaining performances that Powell describes as being more than just dance. “These dancers are very well trained, but they are also very smart. They integrate their experiences with the movement,” says Powell. He continues to explain that people anticipate to see movement when they come to watch dance, but when you sit and watch Ailey II, you see so much more.

After spending some time overseas touring across Germany and France, Ailey ll is stopping in Canada then making their way to Olympia, for a performance at the Kenneth J. Minneart Center for the Arts on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Brought in partnership by South Puget Sound Community College and Ballet Northwest, Kenneth Johnson, co-artistic director for Ballet Northwest, says, “We’re thrilled that Ailey ll is coming to our community. The show will be rewarding for seasoned dance enthusiasts, but also exciting for those new to modern dance. Ballet Northwest is committed to increasing the quality and breadth of dance in the South Sound, and partnering with SPSCC to bring Ailey ll to town is a huge part of that,” says Johnson.

So what exactly can viewers of the performance anticipate to see? Powell says that Ailey ll will be performing three pieces. The first, choreographed by Polish choreographer Katarzyna Skarpetowska and titled “Cuore Sott’Olio,” follows a woman as she revisits three previous relationships with three different men. “You see this woman going on this journey, then the next part introduces these three men. It has a story, and it’s very unique,” says Powell.

The next piece, a work titled, “Alchemies,” choreographed by Adam Barroch, is a series of abstract movements portraying human interactions. Powell says, “[Barroch] really wanted the dancers to consider their human interactions. I think it’s more about the textiles of the movement, and for them to really feel their muscles, feel their skeleton, and have that relationship with that human part of the body.”

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Ailey II’s Jacquelin Harris and David Adrian Freeland Jr. in Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s Cuore Sott’Olio. Photo Eduardo Patino, NYC

The third and final piece Ailey ll will perform during their visit to Olympia is a piece choreographed by Jennifer Archibald. The work, which is titled “Wings,” is, as Powell describes, more of an angelic piece. “The dancers are making a connection with angels. It’s about that higher place – heaven – and having those interactions with angels,” says Powell. The piece poses questions such as, what would you say to an angel? And even depicts movements that suggest the dancers are writing messages in the air. Powell also notes that Archibald challenges the dancers to improvise, making “Wings” a difficult piece for the dancers.

On their upcoming visit to Olympia, Powell notes, with laughter in his voice, “we’re not coming for the weather.”  But says Ailey ll is looking forward to their visit to Washington, and that for most, if not all of the dancers, this will be their first time in Olympia.

As for the performance, Powell suggests guests bring their seat belts along with them. “These dancers are really well trained. They’re passionate about their art and have no problem showing it. People are going to see this and just jump out of their seats.”

To purchase tickets for the performance, click here.  Ailey II dancers will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25.  SPSCC students, faculty and staff are eligible for one free ticket by calling 360-753-8586 in advance.

For more information regarding Ailey ll, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and a full list of tour dates, visit


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