This month, Ailey II returns to NYC for a two-week season you don't want to miss. Fresh off North American and European tours, the second company is back in the states and ready to share some of their most-loved works with their home audience. We caught up with first-year Ailey II dancer Tyler Brown to find out what it's like dancing in one of America's favorite second companies.
Dance Spirit: You just returned from a massive tour. What was life on tour like?
Tyler Brown: It was a great experience. I especially loved the south of France—it's covered in palm trees! Fortunately, one of our company members grew up speaking French. I ate a lot of croissants.
DS: How are the European audiences different from NY audiences?
TB: When the audiences overseas really like a performance, they do this synchronized clap—it can really throw you off if you're not used to it! It's like a marching sound.
DS: You’re dancing quite a few lead roles this season. Do you have a favorite?
TB: I love them all! Each one is so diverse and really challenging. I'll go from something super fast to an adagio to contractions to throwing on my heels—the rep is really making me stronger. But if I had to choose just one, it would be my role in Quintet. The piece features five ladies wearing blonde wigs and red mermaid dresses. It's choreographed by Alvin Ailey and is very theatrical. I love getting dressed up and putting on my showgirl character!
DS: When did you know you wanted to dance with Ailey?
TB: I saw the company perform for the first time when I was 11. It was a surprise for my birthday, and I was in awe from beginning to end. I never dreamed I would go to the school and eventually join the second company. When I did come to the Ailey school and actually saw the company members in their environment, it sealed the deal and motivated me to join them one day.
DS: If you had to sum up your first season with Ailey II in three words, what would they be?
TB: It’s been fabulous.
Birthday: May 16
Most-played on her iPod: "I'm a huge Lady Gaga fan!"
Favorite dancers of all-time: Sylvie Guillem and Renee Robinson
Favorite food: Sushi
Something people don’t know about her: "I have an obsession with the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog."
The best advice she's ever received: "Let it go and just dance."
If she could be a superhero, her power would be: Invisibility
Her go-to stress reliever: Sleep
Performer she'd die to work with: Lady Gaga
Favorite dance movie: Center Stage
Must-see TV show: "Nip/Tuck"
Non-dance hobbies: Music and photography
Dream dance role: "I wish I were fierce enough to be the Black Swan—but just Odile, not Odette."