Alvin Ailey II artistic director makes New York City debut

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- In celebration of Women's History Month, we highlight a trailblazer in the world of ballet who is now heading up the next generation of performers at a dance theater in New York City.

Francesca Harper is making her New York City debut as the artistic director at Alvin Ailey II on Wednesday night.

Harper is following her mother, the late Denise Jefferson's footsteps. Her mother directed the Ailey school for roughly 26 years.

ALSO READ | Massive fire rages at PepsiCo factory in New Jersey
EMBED More News Videos

A massive fire raging at a PepsiCo factory in Piscataway, New Jersey Tuesday night injured two firefighters. Josh Einiger has the breaking details.



When Jefferson was a child dreaming of becoming a ballerina, a teacher pointed out that there were none of color, and she quit.

She would later return to dance, but that story stuck with Harper.

"While I was studying at Ailey it was living in the back of my mind, like hmmm, what would this mean to kind of be a trailblazer in the ballet world," Harper said.

She would go on to join the Frankfurt ballet.

Now in her new role, Harper cherishes guiding people like Brena Thompson who gave some advice for younger dancers.

"Be open to no's, I've heard that a lot in my career, I'm just super open, super blessed," Thompson said.

Harper will pay tribute to her mother and showcase a mix of new material in her upcoming performances including Robert Battle's work 'Searchlight.'

ALSO READ | Long Island mother gets new lease on life with double lung, heart transplant

EMBED More News Videos

Lindsay Salguero-Lopez is a mother, former model, and the first person on Long Island to receive a heart and two lungs from a single donor. Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager has her story.


"We have that Ailey honoring of the soulful nature, but sometimes a little bit of an edge that makes you a little uncomfortable here, let me find my way," Harper said.

Performances run now through April 3rd at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, a much anticipated homecoming.


----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More Manhattan news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.