An evening with Ailey II ~ watching the company class/show review

Ailey II's Christopher R. Wilson and Jacoby Pruitt in Jae Man Joo's Circular. Photo by Kyle Froman_1292
Ailey II’s Christopher R. Wilson and Jacoby Pruitt in Jae Man Joo’s Circular. Photo by Kyle Froman

Alvin Ailey is, I think we can fairly say, one of the most renowned dance institutions in the world. The choreographer, dancer and cultural leader Alvin Ailey founded the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Sixteen years later, the second company, Ailey II, was created and is now made up of twelve young and ambitious dancers, bursting with energy, talent and promise.

Before the performance, I watched their class led by artistic director Troy Powell – it was quite an experience. Continue reading

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The pioneers of contemporary ice skating – an interview with Le Patin Libre’s Alexandre Hamel

Le Patin Libre at Alexandra Palace, part of Dance Umbrella 2014.
Pictured front left: Alexandre Hamel in ‘Vertical Influences’, photograph by Alicia Clarke for Dance Umbrella – taken at the London world premiere in October 2014

After contemporary ice skating company Le Patin Libre’s incredible performance of ‘Vertical Influences’, founder Alexandre Hamel kindly talked to me about the group’s story, their work and ambitions, and the challenges they face…

Like most people in Canada, Alexandre began ice-skating at a very young age – unusually for a boy, it was figure skating, not ice hockey, he got into. After 17 years of competitions and rigorous training, Alexandre decided to rebel… Continue reading

Le Patin Libre’s ‘Vertical Influences’ ~ review

Le Patin Libre at Alexandra Palace, part of Dance Umbrella 2014.
Photograph: Alicia Clarke for Dance Umbrella – taken at the London world premiere in October 2014

Forget the glitzy clichés – Le Patin Libre has shattered traditional figure skating’s boundaries, and founded a new genre: welcome to the world of contemporary ice skating.

The Montreal-based company is made up of five ex-figure skaters who have rebelled against the rigid rules of their former discipline and its rampant commercialism (as Alexandre Hamel, founder of Le Patin Libre, explains in my interview with him). This group of mavericks have created their own innovative, liberated skating style that is now delighting audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading