A number of local dance students had the opportunity to work with Ailey II dancers while the acclaimed modern dance company was in town as part of Thomasville Entertainment Foundation’s 2019-20 performance series.
Made possible through TEF’s Education Fund, the outreach and enrichment activities gave dancers from South Georgia Ballet’s senior company and participants in SGB’s Step UP! program, as well as student dancers from the community at large, the chance to learn from some of Ailey’s top young talent.
On Sunday afternoon following Ailey II’s TEF February 1 performance, SGB senior company dancers participated in a master class with Jamaris Mitchell, Jeffrey Robert Robinson III and Amarachi Valentina Korie, while Step UP! dancers were enjoying their own workshop, led by Carl Ponce Cubero and Brena Thomas.
Later that afternoon, Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell led the entire dance company in an educational lecture/demonstration which was open to area dance students and teachers in the auditorium at Thomasville Center for the Arts. The class included a discussion of Ailey history, philosophy and techniques, a Q&A session with dance company members, an on-stage audience participation choreography session and performances of several Ailey II works, including excerpts from Alvin Ailey’s signature 1960 work, “Revelations.”
“Opportunities for young dancers to attend and train with such extraordinary artists don’t come around often. We are grateful to TEF for providing the platform for both our outreach education programming as well as our oldest company dancers to experience such a high caliber of artistry,” said Melissa June, South Georgia Ballet’s Artistic, Executive and Outreach Education Director.
“I saw a visceral impact on these young dancers as their mouths hung open observing the athleticism, control, commitment and professionalism of the Ailey II dancers,” June added. “I saw a difference in how the children took class the next week, and many of our Step UP! dancers have voiced interest in furthering their dance education because of how inspired they were. This gracious company made quite an impact on our local aspiring dancers.”
“Part of TEF’s mission is to cultivate the future of performing arts, and exposing young people to the magic of live performance is a significant part of that effort,” said Barbara Lee, TEF’s vice president for Education. “We appreciate South Georgia Ballet for partnering with us and providing much needed technical assistance that made it possible for TEF to present Ailey II in Thomasville.”
“Having the Ailey II performance at the Municipal Auditorium on Saturday evening also made it possible for TEF to provide more than 100 student tickets to local and area dance studios — including SGB, The Firm/OBCDA, Artistry in Motion Dance Academy, Rose City Ballet and Flint River Dance Arts, as well as a number of church and civic groups — to extend the impact deeper into the community,” Lee added.
TEF’s Ticket for Teens program is funded in part by a grant from Thomasville Antiques Show Foundation and a generous anonymous gift to TEF’s Education Fund, Lee said. Additional support for the Ailey II performance and the associated educational activities was provided by the Lewis Hall and Mildred Sasser Singletary Foundation and Dr. Sharon Maxwell-Ferguson and Mr. Howell Ferguson.