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.

FAST FACTS

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."

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Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

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