Behind the Scenes with Ailey II’s Gabriel Hyman

Posted March 31, 2017
“Former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Clifton Brown actually inspired and influenced me most as a dancer,” says Gabriel Hyman who is in his second-season with Ailey II. Hyman says that Brown’s “incredible ability to blend elements of fluidity and grace with strength and agility is absolutely mesmerizing.”
 
He originally joined Ailey II as an apprentice in 2014 and became an official company member in 2015. Even after joining the company, he continues to feel immensely inspired by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As he puts it, “I love being a part of an organization that encompasses so much history for African Americans and dance. I find the many cultural boundaries that Alvin Ailey broke for African-Americans and concert dance especially inspiring. It is truly an honor to be a part of Mr. Ailey’s legacy in celebrating the African-American experience through the modern dance tradition.”
 
Since joining the company, Hyman has been influenced in particular by the domestic and international touring that comes with being an Ailey II dancer. “Having the opportunity to travel to countries that I've never been to- such as Italy, Spain, Germany, and France, among others- has allowed me to learn about different cultures and arts around the world,” he says. Touring contributes a great deal to why Ailey II means so much to Hyman, “it is incredible to have the opportunity to not only travel domestically, internationally, and perform for audiences around the world, but to also give back to global communities through the art of dance.”
 
On tour, Hyman never leaves without his journal and a Pilot G-2 07 pen. When he isn’t touring or dancing, he loves sitting down with a good book at a coffee shop. “It’s incredibly calming, and the perfect change of pace from dance on my days off,” he explains - not to mention that it also satisfies his love for coffee. Hyman also loves pistachio macarons and NBC’s This is Us. His favorite dance move? “Any move found in a Beyoncé video or live performance,” he reveals.
 
Before a performance, Hyman always listens to an R&B playlist he created with songs by some of his favorite artists, including Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, and Drake. The music gets him “in the zone.” Although he has his own pre-performance ritual, the Ailey II company also has a collective ritual they perform. Hyman described it for us: “As a company, before every performance we circle up and breathe in and out together followed by a prayer. This calms any butterflies I might have that evening and really prepares my mind and my spirit for the performance.” After he performs, Hyman enjoys reflecting on the performance on his way back to the dressing room. “After each curtain closes I thank God for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do every night,” he says.
 
When asked what advice he lives by, Hyman remarks, “Always learn to find beauty in uncertainty. Sometimes life has a weird way of working itself out and you don’t always know what is coming next, but it is important to trust that while you are working on being where you want to be, you should also appreciate where you are.”
 
Hyman is currently performing with Ailey II at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts through April 2nd. To learn more about these Ailey II performances, please click here.
 
By Neeve MacGregor

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