Highlight of the Summer: Ailey Project UK

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This August, Milton Keynes Theatre played host to Dance Consortium’s first ever in person Ailey Summer Intensive in the UK. Led by the prestigious Ailey School Director, Tracy Inman and world renowned Ailey Dancer, Yannick Lebrun. As well as local young dancers, young people were recruited from around the UK including new partners Irie Dance Theatre and Artistry Youth Dance.

Group of dancers in the same pose during a dance workshop in a brightly lit studio space. They are all standing with one arm out to the side and another gracefully above their heads

The four day residential both challenged and inspired the twenty-two young people who took part. Daily ballet and Horton Technique classes were followed by physically demanding but amazing afternoons of house dance. The participants were lucky enough to learn the movement from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) piece, Lazarus, choreographed by critically-acclaimed hip hop choreographer, Renne Harris. In this piece Harris connects past and present in a powerful work that addresses the racial inequities America faced when Mr. Ailey founded this company in 1958, and which it still faces today.

In addition to full days of dance, the young dancers had a packed social schedule including a backstage tour of Milton Keynes Theatre, a visit to see Cher The Musical, a couple games of bowling and a pizza night!

Young dancer laughing and talking to another dancer in-front of them during a workshop

A highlight was the question and answer session near the end of the week, in which the artists shared openly and honestly about their creative journeys. The young dancers got a unique insight into the life of a professional dancer at AAADT and what it takes to run a school as prestigious as the Ailey School. 

“The summer dance intensive was fun and helped me to develop skills which tied in with my upcoming dance events. It helped me to discover a new aspect in dance artistry and opened my mind to more paths to take in the future. I found it challenging but had a lot of help and correction, the shapersones were delightful and made me feel comfortable. Couldn’t be any happier.” – Summer intensive Participant.

Emma Sullivan Milton Keynes Theatre Director explains: “This project has given us the opportunity to build so many new partnerships with underserved communities. We feel so lucky to have this inspiring company in Milton Keynes. It has given our Creative Learning team a spring board for more new and exciting projects!”

We continue to plan with Dance Consortium’s member venues for further engagement opportunities with AAADT and the Ailey School in Summer 2023 so watch this space!

To receive Ailey Project UK updates please follow Dance Consortium’s social channels and for further information about the project and the summer intensives, contact samina.beckford@danceconsortium.com