Some of the finest up and coming talent from three of America’s best-known dance companies are getting their chance to shine over the next two weeks. The Joyce Theater here in New York is hosting its 1.2.3. Festival through May 11, featuring on alternate nights ABT II, Taylor 2 and Ailey II, the second companies, respectively, of the American Ballet Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
While the dancers in these junior companies are younger and less well-known—at least for now—their enthusiasm and near boundless energy more than compensates for a lack of experience.
Last Wednesday night, Ailey II presented four new works that collectively centered around connections: individuals to groups, two people to each other and connections we make to ourselves.
External Knot, choreographed by Ailey II Associate Artistic Director Troy Powell, plays upon themes any New Yorker can relate to, that feeling of alienation from others. While four couples dance together, one man dances alone, in and out of synch with the others. In smaller groupings and pairs, the couples also seem less than harmonious, suggesting the ways in which we all accommodate each other. The piece culminates at a furious and frenetic pace with the man joining and unjoining, seemingly to meet his own needs. Jermaine Terry was the principal performer as the lone dancer.
Mind and body connections were played out in the next two pieces. Fragile, by French choreographer Stephane Boko, explored the essential relationship between our mental and physical being, while Korean choreographer Chang Yong Sung’s Requiem, centered around the concept of two minds being merged in one body. Ephraim M. Sykes and Josh Johnson danced a duet in the latter, as mirror images or Siamese twins as they merged, thrashing about as if disoriented and lost when they danced solo.
When Dawn Comes…, by former AAADT member Christopher L. Huggins, posits an uncertain tomorrow, as viewed through the eyes of four women. Paired with four indifferent male counterparts, they are desperate to cling to someone until this dependence proves unwise. Towards the end, their dancing is fluid, smooth and confident. Rosita Adamo, Aisha Mitchell, Rachael McLaren and Dominique O. Rosales bring in the dawn with brilliant sunlight.
Ailey II will have three more performances as part of the festival, Sunday, May 4 at 2 pm; Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30 pm and Thursday, May 8 at 8 pm. A post-performance discussion with company members follows the Wednesday night show.