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The junior division of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater is all grown up, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
A “staple in black history,” according to The Grio, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater has played in a critical role in the artistic expression of the black community since its founding in 1958. But Ailey II, which focused on recruiting and training young black dance talent, moves center stage this year with its anniversary celebration.
The special schedule includes a series of shows that highlight the choreography and dance talent that Ailey II has produced.
Troy Powell, creative director of Ailey II, spoke with The Grio about this signature milestone for the company.
“Ailey II is the junior company, these are dancers that are working their way to the professional field,” Powell said. “These dancers are striving to be those professionals that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers are.”
Powell’s association with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater began when he was a child. He said he established a close relationship with the founder whom he considered a mentor and a father figure in many ways.
“I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Alvin Ailey when I was 9 years old,” Powell said. “He was a man who was a visionary. He took kids from the inner city here in New York and brought them to this program at the Alvin Ailey American dance center and I just began to love it.”
Powell helps to recruit and train top level dancers and shares his excitement in allowing them to show their talent with the world.
“[Mr. Ailey’s] motto has always been to give back to the people,” Powell said. “He wanted to celebrate the African-American heritage in a modern dance tradition.”
The 40th season of Ailey II kicked off on Wednesday and the dance group will be delivering a series of performances over the next few weeks, The Grio reported.
Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com