In the News: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Returns to the Auditorium Theatre



FEBRUARY 28 – MARCH 9, 2014 

Alvin Ailey Returns to the Auditorium Theatre

Artistic Director Robert Battle Leads the Company During 23-City U.S. TouMarking 25 Years Since the Passing of Founder Alvin Ailey

Special Program Highlights Collaboration between Ailey and
The Great Jazz Musician, Duke Ellington

Celebrating the life and legacy of Alvin Ailey and his innovative, inspiring and thrilling work, 25 years after his passing, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, “long one of the nation’s more cherished troupes,” (“Chicago Tribune”) graces the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University’s landmark stage February 28 – March 9, 2014 as part of a 23-City U.S. Tour. Robert Battle returns for his third year as Artistic Director to lead the world renowned company as they continue to inspire and delight audiences with both new work as well as traditional pieces that have made “the Cultural Ambassadors” a staple on the international stage. Tickets ($32 – $92) are on sale now and available online at, by calling (800) 982-ARTS (2787) or at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

A Student Matinee performance is offered on February 28, open to any elementary through high school student for $12 each. Student matinee tickets are currently sold out. To be added to the waiting list, please call (312) 341-2357.

“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual residency at the Auditorium is a highlight of our season for both our audience and our supporters. The Auditorium is delighted to be the company’s Chicago home and host to the longest run of domestic performances by the company outside of New York City” said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson. “We are honored to have these multi-faceted dancers, under the incredible leadership of Robert Battle, return year after year—treating our audiences to classic masterpieces as well as astounding new work. Sublime artists like the Ailey dancers have allowed the Auditorium to flourish for 125 years, and their continued presence on our stage will help the theatre survive for another 125 years to come.”

Alvin Ailey Dancer

Building on his first two successful seasons with the company, Artistic Director Robert Battle who “…[takes] the troupe in new directions while maintaining its beloved traditions,” (“Chicago Tribune”) continues to enhance the already rich repertory of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by combining a vibrant array of new choreographic voices with classical and traditional pieces. “While the Ailey company knows how to cater to audiences, a more gratifying truth has emerged: The dancers are also generous with choreographers” (“The New York Times”). This is seen through their eclectic programming during the 2014 North American tour featuring new work, new choreographers and new vision. The Chicago program, featuring four Chicago premieres, includes Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma;” “LIFT,” the propulsive world premiere by in-demand choreographer Aszure Barton; Bill T. Jones’ New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning work, D-Man in the Waters;” “Four Corners,” the fifth piece choreographed for the Alvin Ailey dancers by renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown; three of Alvin Ailey’s own pieces set to the incredible music stylings of the late Duke Ellington including “The River,” “Night Creature” and “Pas de Duke;” as well as Ailey’s personal masterpiece, “Revelations.”

Artistic Director Robert Battle stands by Ailey’s mission to inspire audiences in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.  Battle’s vision allows Ailey’s extraordinary artists to push their limits with a diverse repertoire while connecting to audiences on various emotional levels.

“I’m thrilled to further expand Ailey’s diverse repertory with new voices and talented contemporary choreographers that showcase the depth and breadth of the dancers’ artistry,” said Battle. “Audiences will be treated to bright new voices while also seeing some of the most renowned pieces re-imagined for the Ailey dancers. It always feels like ‘coming home’ when the company arrives in Chicago and we are embraced by the Auditorium audiences. We are thrilled to continue that long-standing tradition in 2014.”

Program Details


The Ailey company premiere of Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma,” (2006) made possible in part by the generous support of New York City Center, marks the first time a work by this multi award-winning British choreographer will appear in the Ailey repertory.  Set to an amalgam of original music by Joby Talbot and orchestrations of music by Jack White III of The White Stripes, the layered ballet explores McGregor’s curiosity of a concept freed from whiteness and the drama of the human body.  Originally created for The Royal Ballet, a luminous, minimalist set designed by architect John Pawson uses motifs of inside and outside, entrance and exit, light and shadow, void and plenitude, to create a spatially charged environment explored through the medium of the ten dancers’ bodies. Said Robert Battle, “One of the things that I love about mounting this ballet is that, because of the demands of the dynamic choreography and the striking set, it involves a team effort from every person involved with Ailey.”


This propulsive world premiere by in-demand choreographer Aszure Barton, her first commission for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, accentuates the vitality and physical prowess of the Ailey dancers. Driven by the dancers’ passion, skill and collective power, “LIFT” (2013) was created over a 5-week developmental process with the entire Company. With a collaborative stylistic approach that is constantly evolving, Barton’s exhilarating new work, set to an original percussive score composed by Curtis Macdonald, celebrates and challenges the dancers with its markedly intricate rhythmic patterns and mercurial structure.  “LIFT” embodies an atmosphere and energy created by our time spent together in collaboration,” stated Barton.  “I feel very welcomed by the Ailey family and am honored to be working with such a wonderful group of artists.” Added Battle, “I’ve known Aszure for many years and have watched her develop a unique voice, with bold choices in her choreography and in her approach.  Her work is physically demanding, detail oriented, visceral, and both abstract and dramatic – a great fit for the Company.  I was interested in the dancers having a process that was really motivated by their artistry and, after spending time with the dancers on tour, she used the inspiration of seeing and experiencing them in many different settings as the impetus for the entire work, including the score by her collaborator Curtis Macdonald.”

D-Man in the Waters

Bill T. Jones’ New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning work, D-Man in the Waters (Part 1),” (1989, revised 1998) is a true modern dance classic and a celebration of life and the resiliency of the human spirit that embodies loss, hope and triumph. Set to Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1825), the work is one of the finest examples of the post-modern aesthetic and was featured in PBS’s landmark film “Dancing in the Light: Six Dances by African-American Choreographers.” Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater first performed choreography by Bill T. Jones in 1983 when Ailey himself invited him to create “Fever Swamp” for the Company. Jones choreographed and performed worldwide with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, for which he has created more than 140 works.  Serving as the Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts since 2011, Bill T. Jones is also the recipient of numerous recognitions, including the Kennedy Center Honors; Tony Award (“FELA!” and “Spring Awakening”); Obie Award; the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award. Alvin Ailey took a strong interest in Bill T. Jones early on in his career and continued to encourage his unique work,” said Battle. “Inspired by one of his dancers who died of AIDS, Demian Acquavella, “D-Man in the Waters (Part I)” was created in 1989, the year that Alvin Ailey and so many others were dying from the disease.  What’s interesting is that the work is really about joy and a celebration of life – an acknowledgment of death but filled with a sense of transcendence.”

Four Corners

“Four Corners,” (2013) the fifth work choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown, brings to life the vision of four angels standing on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds.  Set to the music of Carl Hancock Rux, Brown draws inspiration from the lyrics of Rux’s “Lamentations,” following eleven dancers on a powerful and hope-filled journey of tribulation, devotion and triumph. Know for his signature blend of modern dance and West African idioms in works that often stimulate deeper examinations of spirituality, community responsibility and liberation, Brown’s work has had a significant impact on the Ailey dancers who are now known as inspiring interpreters of his unique dance storytelling.


In a program aptly titled Ailey/Ellington, ballets showcasing the marriage of Alvin Ailey’s choreography and Duke Ellington’s music will be presented including “Night Creature” and new productions of “Pas de Duke” and “The River” restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya.

The River

“The River” (1970) is Alvin Ailey’s acclaimed collaboration with the late musical genius Duke Ellington, choreographed and composed in 1970 for American Ballet Theatre and first performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1980. One of 14 dances Ailey created to Ellington’s music, “The River” was Ellington’s first symphonic score written specifically for dance.  Combining classical ballet, modern dance and jazz, the suite suggests tumbling rapids and slow currents on its voyage to the great sea, mirroring the journey of life. With Ailey’s mixture of light and fun yet dark and romantic choreography balanced with Ellington’s score, the work is an abstract celebration of birth, life, and rebirth. “The River” has been restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya for several companies in addition to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “This particular Ailey piece shows his range as a choreographer, and certainly the versatility of the dancers,” said Battle. “Mr. Ailey always seemed to have a passport through all different genres of dance while still retaining his own essence.”

Night Creature

Combining modern dance, classical ballet and jazz, “Night Creature” (1974) is another perfect fusion of Alvin Ailey’s buoyant choreography and Duke Ellington’s sparkling music. Ellington first composed the phenomenal, “Suite For Orchestra” in 1955, later adding the second and third movements in 1963. He said that “night creatures, unlike stars, do not come OUT at night– they come ON, each thinking that, before the night is out, he or she will be the star.” This large ensemble work is full of such stars—strutting, leaping and slinking across the stage. “Night Creature” is the definitive Ailey homage to the exuberance of “The Duke’s” jazz, and remains one of his most popular works.

Pas de Duke

Pas de Duke” (1976) was Alvin Ailey’s modern dance translation of a classical pas de deux honoring two of the most renowned dancers in the world, Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov while celebrating the musical genius of Duke Ellington. Last staged for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during the 2006-2007 season, “Pas de Duke” was originally presented as part of the festival “Ailey Celebrates Ellington” at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater in 1976, commemorating the nation’s bicentennial with America’s two great art forms – modern dance and jazz music. Ailey choreographed five sections capturing the sassy sophistication of “The Duke’s” jazz music: the introduction to “Such Sweet Thunder” (1957); the pas de deux to “Sonnet for Caesar” (1975); the male solo to “Sonnet for Hank Cinq” (1957); the female solo to “Unclothed Woman” (1948); and the finale to “Old Man’s Blues” (1930), which captured the exuberance of the star dancers’ qualities and techniques as the male and female soloists mirror each other toe-to-toe and line-for-line in this playful, good-natured competition. “Created especially for Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov – reigning stars at the time from parallel worlds of dance—‘Pas de Duke’ showcases so much of Alvin Ailey’s appreciation and ability to showcase great dancers while combining great dance with great music,” said Battle.


Rounding out the program is one of Alvin Ailey’s personal masterpieces that has become a signature American classic. “Revelations,” (1960) a suite of dances that fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul, will be performed at each performance throughout the two week engagement.

Community Engagement Programming

In tandem with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Auditorium’s Department of Creative Engagement utilizes innovative programming to engage Chicago students and the community by highlighting the importance of dance and artistic expression.

The Alvin Ailey Chicago Master Class Series allows both students and adults the unique opportunity to learn from some of the most accomplished dancers working today. Classes take place over two weekends, March 1 and 8. March 1 will feature two FREE high school classes in hip-hop and “Horton Technique.” March 8 will feature an adult master class in jazz technique and costs $20 per person. All classes limited to 30 participants. For more information or to sign up, please email or call (312) 341-2340.

The Department of Creative Engagement will also present the 2014 Ailey Residency Program. Various junior high schools from the Chicagoland area will participate in a five-day program, February 17 – 21, where they will learn about community building and expression through dance. Led by former principal Ailey dancer Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, as well as other teaching artists, the program allows students to tell their own stories through the creation of personal dance. The students will not only create their own pieces of dance but they will also learn part of the signature Ailey piece, “Revelations.”

Finally, the Auditorium Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present Alvin Ailey Family Day at the South Shore Cultural Center on February 22. As part of the City of Chicago’s Black History Month celebrations happening at park districts around the city, Ailey Family Day will give Chicago families the opportunity to work with Ailey teaching artists and dancers while enjoying a myriad of other fun activities. The day will consist of rotating dance and fitness classes like Zumba, Pilates, Werg and more, as well as arts and crafts stations where you can make your own “Revelations” fan. The day will conclude with a special dance experience learning a portion of “Revelations.”

Various other activities are planned during the residency program and will be announced at a later date.

Program Schedule and Ticket Information

Week 1

Friday, Feb. 28 | 7:30pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations
Saturday, March 1 | 2:00 & 8:00pm: LIFT / D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) / Revelations
Sunday, March 2 | 3:00pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations 

Week 2

Wednesday, March 5 | 7:30pm: Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations
Thursday, March 6 | 7:30pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations
Friday, March 7 | 7:30pm: LIFT / D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) / Revelations
Saturday, March 8 | 2:00pm: Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations
Saturday, March 8 | 8:00pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations
Sunday, March 9 | 3:00pm: LIFT / D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) / Revelations

Tickets are $32 – $92 and are available online at, by calling

(800) 982-ARTS (2787) or in-person at the Auditorium’s Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

Discounted tickets available to groups of 10 or more are available by calling (312) 341-2357.

There will be a student matinee on Friday, February 28 at 11 a.m. The Ailey student matinee performance is available to elementary through high school student groups of 10 or more. Student matinee tickets are currently sold out. To be added to the waiting list, please call (312) 341-2357.

Auditorium Theatre 2014 Subscriptions

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is part of the Auditorium Theatre’s 2013-2014 Dance Series, that also includes Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s “Songs of the Wanderers” (March 14 & 16), Houston Ballet’s “Aladdin” (March 22-23), River North Dance Chicago (April 12), and The Paul Taylor Dance Company (May 17-18).

Dance Subscriptions – discounted at 30% off individual ticket prices – start at only $80 and are on sale now. A Select Your Own Series is also available at a 15% discount.  For more information or to purchase a subscription call (312) 341-2357 or visit

For more information, visit


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2014 Chicago engagement is supported by Arts Midwest. BET Networks is the Opening Night Sponsor. The Private Bank and The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation are sponsors of the Auditorium Theatre’s student matinee series, including the Ailey student matinee performance.

About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” grew from a now‐fabled March 1958 performance in New York that changed forever the perception of American dance. Founded by Alvin Ailey, and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the Company is now led by Robert Battle, whom Judith Jamison chose to succeed her on July 1, 2011. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents, promoting the uniqueness of the African‐American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition. In addition to being the Principal Dance Company of New York City Center, where its performances have become a year‐end tradition, the Ailey company performs annually at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami‐Dade County in Miami, The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark  where it is the Principal Resident Affiliate), and appears frequently in other major theaters throughout the United States and the world during extensive yearly tours. The Ailey organization also includes Ailey II (1974), a second performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School (1969), one of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, which brings dance into the classrooms, communities and lives of people of all ages; and The Ailey Extension (2005), a program offering dance and fitness classes to the general public, which began with the opening of Ailey’s permanent home—the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the dance capital of the world —named The Joan Weill Center for Dance, at 55th Street at 9th Avenue in New York City.  For more information, visit

The 2014 U.S. Tour is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. The company premiere of “Chroma” is made possible in part by the generous support of New York City Center. American Express is the lead funder of “D-Man in the Waters (Part I).

About the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University 

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, located at 50 E Congress Pkwy, is an Illinois, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural, community and educational programming to Chicago, and to the continued restoration and preservation of the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Theatre. The Auditorium Theatre is generously supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the NIB Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council and the Palmer House Hilton. For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theatre tours, call (312) 341 – 2310 or visit

Auditorium Theatre’s 2013 – 14 Season:

The full Auditorium Theatre 2013 – 14 season includes Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s Songs of the Wanderers (March 14 and 16); Houston Ballet’s “Aladdin” (March 22 – 23); Chick Corea and Béla Fleck (April 5); River North Dance Chicago (April 12); “The Idan Raichel Project” (May 15); and The Paul Taylor Dance Company (May 17–18). For a complete listing of events at the Auditorium Theatre, please click here.

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