New York – September 1, 2021 – Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, announced today that internationally renowned performer, choreographer, director, and multi-disciplinary artist Francesca Harper has been appointed Artistic Director of Ailey II, the Ailey organization’s acclaimed company of young dancers. Ms. Harper will assume her duties on September 7, 2021, and will immediately begin preparing for Ailey II’s return to the stage. Ailey II’s 2021-2022 season will kick off in December with participation in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual season at New York City Center, in which Ailey II will perform in Mr. Ailey’s classic Memoria, and will continue with the company’s own 2022 New York City season March 23-April 3 at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, as well as a U.S. tour.
In the tumultuous time of 1979 when Mr. Ailey’s great, perennial friend from his Lester Horton days, choreographer Joyce Trisler, died prematurely, he began choreographing Memoria. Later, he wrote, “Memoria is about Joyce’s life, my memories of her, my image of her. Although these are very abstract images, nobody has ever asked me what Memoria is about. People everywhere understand it. Making the dance was a very deep and wrenching experience for me.”
The ballet is structured in two parts—“In Memory” and “In Celebration”—to the sublime music of Keith Jarrett. Memoria marked the first time Mr. Ailey combined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with Ailey II and advanced students from The Ailey School.