Ailey II and Manuel Vignoulle's Breakthrough

Ailey II performing Manuel Vignoulle's Breakthrough (Photo by Eduardo Patino)
Ailey II performing Manuel Vignoulle's Breakthrough (Photo by Eduardo Patino)

For those who know Manuel Vignoulle's imagination, and how effortlessly he seems to express what he imagines in Dance, the chance to see one of his works performed by a Company like Ailey II is definitely news, the very good kind.

Breakthrough is a new work that Vignoulle created for Ailey II last summer, and they first performed it last October in Canada. Vignoulle has worked with a lot of great Dance companies; a graduate of the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse, he first danced with, and for the past several years has choreographed for, an impressive spectrum of great Companies. Not surprisingly, working with Ailey II has been an experience that he's appreciated quite a bit. "They're very athletic and strong," he says of the Company, "It was a pleasure working with them, I'm super grateful."

Breakthrough is characteristic of Vignoulle's carefully thoughtful approach to his art. Vignoulle describes it as a work whose story line is almost apocalyptic, but defiantly individualistic. "It's about individuals who live in a world where emotions and feelings are prohibited," he explains. "It's as if their bodies and minds have been numbed for decades, even for generations, and they have no idea what effect an emotion might have on them." The work tracks their struggle. "They want to feel something inside, to connect with an emotion, whatever the cost," Vignoulle continues. "The beauty is in these exhausted bodies fighting, and never giving up fighting, just for the freedom to feel what they feel."

breakthrough (Ailey II) from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

Breakthrough is set to an original score by Swedish composer Mikael Karlson. Karlson lives in New York, and Vignoulle had heard a work that he composed in a performance by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. "As soon as I found out about the opportunity to choreograph on Ailey II, I contacted him right away," Vignoulle recalls. "It was a great experience collaborating with him, sitting next to him in his music studio, searching for the right sounds, trying things. I loved his artistry."

Breakthrough promises a lot of artistry, Vignoulle's movement design and story line, Karlson's music, and the intertwining artistry of the Ailey II dancers. It's worth keeping track of the Ailey II tour, and if you can be in New York, Ailey II performs Breakthrough at The Joyce Thursday through Sunday, March 19-22.

(There's a lot more to find out about Manuel Vignoulle, at, and in stories we've written about him here at, and

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