Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Final preparations under way for Ailey II performances

Published:Friday | September 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Conrad Graham (standing centre) pays close attention as Pauline Findlay (seated, left), trustee and chair of the Wolmer's Board of Management, and Troy Powell (seated, right), artistic director of Ailey II dance company, sign the agreement to bring Ailey II to Jamaica. Also witnessing the signing are (standing, from left) Christopher Samuda and Michelle Wilson-Reynolds. The Wolmer's Trust will present Ailey II for two performances in Jamaica on September 28. Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

Final preparations for the one-day performances of the renowned Ailey II dance company are well under way.

The company will perform at The Little Theatre in two shows, a 4 p.m. matinee and an 8 p.m. gala on Sunday, September 28. Conrad Graham of Trafalgar Travel, one of the major organisers of the event, said key issues like new lighting for the theatre have been addressed. As part of the agreement with Ailey II, the company has requested specific lighting arrangements. Graham gives full assurance that the necessary additions would be made.

"All of that work will be done at least a week before they arrive," he said, noting the Wolmer's Prep Season of Dance, which Ailey II's performances culminate, begin on Friday the 26. "So the lighting will be up before the season starts." Ailey II's crew are scheduled to arrive on Thursday, September 25. Graham also said ticket sales are going extremely well. He noted that the wings section of the theatre had 75 per cent take-up, meaning tickets have already been paid for. The lower of the two balcony areas, which holds the VIPs, is sold out for the 4 p.m. show, while the orchestra section (the biggest seating area with over 240 seats) had 98 per cent take-up.

"We are expecting ... a flood in the last week or two, but we might not have enough seats," he said. "But that's a good problem to have." With a bumper crowd expected for both shows, Graham said the adjoining Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library grounds will be utilised to compliment the theatre's parking. Patrons will have security personnel and additional lights run by a stand-by generator to aid their short trek to the theatre. The School of Dance grounds are also on standby.

Cocktails at meet-and-greet

"We figure, based on the number of cars we expect ... we should be able to work with that," he said. Patrons at the gala performance will enjoy a cocktail hour (complete with finger foods) before the performance, and will get a chance to meet the dancers after the show. Unfortunately, matinee patrons won't get the same opportunity.

"We would have had to clear the theatre and the parking spaces (to prepare for the gala performance) so we wouldn't have had the time," he said. Speaking of time, Graham encouraged patrons to be on time as the shows will start promptly, as per the contract. Once the performances begin, the theatre doors will be closed until intermission. This is in keeping with international standards of good theatre etiquette.

"So we are asking people to be in their seats at least 10 minutes prior to the start, that you don't have any movement or anything," he said. "We hope that people will cooperate and understand. By contract, we would have to hold people who arrive late in the lobby (during the performances)." Plus, with the first piece lasting about 19 minutes, to miss any part of the performance would be significant. Graham noted all tickets are numbered so there should be no mix-ups with seating.

"Some of the ushers have been at the theatre for years, so they can practically guide you with their eyes closed," he laughed. "And we'll have members of the Wolmer's family helping out. We have really looked at all the details to make sure that it comes together nicely."

For those still interested, the matinee show tickets are priced at US$40 (approx J$4,480), US$50 (approx J$5,600) and US$60 (approx J$6,720). Tickets for the gala performance are US$70 (approx J$7,840) , US$80 (approx J$8,960) and US$90 (approx J$10,080). Tickets are also available at Training Camp, Upper Manor Park Plaza.