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April 11, 2008

Dancing divos

Ailey II troupe brings dance pioneer’s legacy to Columbus

Columbus--The late Alvin Ailey left his mark in the world of dance like few modern choreographers. Founded fifty years ago in New York City, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues long after his death. Its training programs and concerts performed all across America expose us to wave after wave of the best new dancers and choreographers.

Ailey, black and gay, came of age in a time when neither was accepted by the society at large. Born in 1931 in Texas, he spent his formative years in Los Angeles, where he found his love for dance.

He moved to New York City in 1954, dancing on Broadway with legendary performers like Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. He also trained with modern dance giants like Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham.

Ailey broke all sorts of boundaries in art and his personal life. Creating some of the first integrated dance works and companies, Ailey was at the pioneering end of race’s nexus to art.

As a gay man who eventually died from HIV-related complications in 1989, Ailey faced a lot of homophobia, reportedly even from his mother. That relationship and the homophobia of his times is may have led him to being very secretive of his sexuality, although in his inner circles there were no such secrets. His biographers have all dealt with his gayness, telling the story of a man who was an artistic genius, yet haunted by the demons of racism and homophobia.

In 1974 Ailey’s company launched Ailey II, then known as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. That company is coming to Columbus on April 20 for one performance only, featuring brand new works by some of the most exciting new names in dance. Columbus is one of four cities on the company’s national 2007-2008 tour schedule. They will also perform some of Ailey’s timeless classics, works which confront a plethora of issues, always told through the lens of amazing creativity and technical perfection.

Ailey II’s artistic director Sylvia Walters was hand-picked by Ailey to lead the troupe in 1974. She has taken the company to dizzying new heights, garnering rave reviews wherever they perform. Ailey II is also invaluable to the country’s culture scene since it trains dancers and choreographers who have gone on to do great things away from the Ailey family.   |

Ailey II will perform on Sunday, April 20 at the Capitol Theater, 77 South High St. at 7 pm. Tickets are $35, $25, and $20. For tickets please call Ticketmaster or visit Tickets are also available from CAPA at 614-4313600 or 614-4690939. Student rates are available.



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