ONE of the world’s most popular dance companies Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater are heading for Southampton as they return to the UK for the first time in six years.

They will present two exhilarating mixed bills of dance at Mayflower Theatre on Tuesday 11 & Wednesday 12 October. The performances will mark the company's first ever performances at the Southampton theatre.

Founded in 1958, the company is recognised by the U.S. Congress as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World.”

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s performances celebrate the human spirit through the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition. In almost six decades, Ailey’s artists have performed for over 25 million people in 71 countries on six continents and continue to wow audiences and critics around the world.

Commenting about the Company’s return to the UK, Ailey’s Artistic Director Robert Battle said: “I’m proud to continue Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s legacy of extensive international tours with my inaugural visit leading the Company’s extraordinary dancers through the United Kingdom. Presented by Dance Consortium six years after they so successfully last welcomed Ailey, we’ll share a diverse repertory of works including several UK premieres. I’m excited for audiences old and new to experience the uplifting performances that have inspired people the world over, fulfilling Mr. Ailey’s belief that ‘Dance came from the people and should always be delivered back to the people.”

The Southampton performances include UK premieres by two of today’s most acclaimed choreographers: the uplifting Exodus by hip hop choreographer Rennie Harris; and the spiritual journey of Four Corners by Ronald K. Brown. Included in the evening programme is a company UK premiere- the dreamlike duet After the Rain Pas de Deux by Christopher Wheeldon.

Southampton audiences can experience two Ailey Classics during the Mayflower engagement: Night Creature (excerpt) by Alvin Ailey is set to sparkling music by Duke Ellington; and the beloved crowd-pleaser Revelations by Alvin Ailey is the most widely-seen modern dance work in the world and will be performed by the incomparable Ailey dancers. Revelations premiered in 1960 and continues to bring audiences all around the world to their feet.

In Southampton, Ailey’s Mini Matinee is the perfect introduction to the company’s repertoire. Aimed at family audiences, Mini Matinees are 60 minutes long and include short introductions before each work and a post-performance Q&A with members of the company.