Alvin Ailey Chicago Auditorium Theatre

Featuring Awakening, Robert Battle’s First World Premiere Since Becoming Artistic Director, Three New Productions from Late Founder Alvin Ailey, plus his Must-See American Masterpiece Revelations

The Auditorium Theatre’s annual Chicago presentation of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will bring a wide array of premieres, new productions, and classics to life on its landmark stage Tuesday, March 8 through Sunday, March 13. Beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, Alvin Ailey’s pioneering legacy of uplifting, uniting, and celebrating the human spirit lives on in the movement of Ailey’s extraordinary dancers. Ticket prices start at $33 and can be purchased online at, by phone at 312.341.2300, or in-person at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E. Congress Parkway). The Auditorium Theatre will also present a sold-out student matinee on March 11.

“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been a symbol of excellence in dance for nearly 60 years,” said Auditorium Theatre Board of Trustees Chairman Charlie Gardner. “Serving as the Chicago home for such an esteemed dance company is an honored tradition, and the Auditorium Theatre is fortunate to once again share their diverse repertory with our community.”

Robert Battle's Awakening“I am excited to share with Chicago audiences my world premiere, Awakening, new works by visionary choreographers like Ronald K. Brown and Rennie Harris, as well as enduring classics by Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey,” stated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Robert Battle.  “At this year’s Auditorium Theatre engagement, 31 extraordinary dancers will share performances that enrich our society and stir our souls, building upon Ailey’s proud legacy of inspiring, enlightening and uniting.”

Chicago audiences will have the opportunity to experience Robert Battle’s artistry and personal story via the stage and the page. Awakening, his first world premiere since becoming Artistic Director, leads the audience on a cathartic journey of dissonance and harmony, chaos and resolution. Battle’s personal awakening is shared in MY STORY, MY DANCE: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey, a Simon & Schuster children’s book based upon his life. Award-winning husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome created the vibrant illustrations and wrote the inspiring narrative about a boy who, despite physical challenges and personal hardships, has a life filled with music, church, and, after seeing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, dance. MY STORY, MY DANCE will be available for purchase at all performances.

Other world premieres include Open Door by Ronald K. Brown, set to vibrant music from Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and Rennie Harris’ Exodus, which takes audiences on a journey from ignorance and conformity to enlightenment set to a score of gospel and house music.

Paul Taylor’s Piazzolla CalderaThe incomparable Ailey dancers will also introduce Chicago audiences to Company premieres of Paul Taylor’s  Piazzolla Caldera, set in a smoky tango club, and Robert Battle’s stirring No Longer Silent, which brings to life a score by Erwin Schulhoff, a composer whose music was banned by the Nazis, and who died in a concentration camp in 1942.

The Company will also perform in thrilling new productions of three Ailey classics created by Alvin Ailey himself – Cry, the woman’s solo made famous by Judith Jamison, Love Songs, set to music by Nina Simone and Donny Hathaway and often considered the male counterpart to Cry, and Blues Suite, Ailey’s original masterpiece that launched the Company during its first performance in 1958. Each evening will conclude with Alvin Ailey’s must-see American classic, Revelations.

Support for the Auditorium Theatre presentation of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is provided by Arts Midwest. The International Dance Series is sponsored by NIB Foundation.

Ailey’s 2016 North American Tour is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

American Express is a major supporter of the new production of Blues Suite.

Major support for the creation of Awakening is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Commission support for Awakening is provided by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County with lead support from Ira and Carole Hall.

Awakening is supported by commissioning funds from Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley.

The creation of Open Door is supported by commissioning funds from New York City Center.

Major support for Ailey’s Arts In Education & Community Programs is provided by Southern Company.

Program Details

*Denotes Chicago Premiere


Awakening is an ensemble work featuring Robert Battle’s signature taut, ritualistic choreographic style and a score by American composer John Mackey. Buoyed by the complex rhythmic quality of Mackey’s music (Turning and The Attention of Souls, the third movement from the symphony Wine-Dark Sea), a dozen Ailey dancers lead the audience on a cathartic journey in this powerful dance of dissonance and harmony, chaos and resolution. Awakening is the first world premiere created by Robert Battle since he became Artistic Director in 2011 and his ninth work to enter the Ailey repertory.

March 8, March 11, March 13 (m)

Blues Suite

“Blood memories” of rural, Depression-era southern Texas, come to life in Blues Suite, Alvin Ailey’s hugely popular ballet that launched Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at its first performance 57 years ago. With the rumble of a train and the toll of distant bells, a cast of vividly-drawn characters from the barrelhouses and fields of Alvin Ailey’s southern childhood are summoned to dance and revel through one long, sultry night.

March 10, March 12 (m)


In 1981, Alvin Ailey choreographed the ballet, Cry, as a birthday present for his mother. It went on to become an enduring work of American art. This 16-minute solo, which was first danced by the legendary Judith Jamison, became an immediate sensation, propelling Jamison, who is now the Artistic Director Emerita of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, to international stardom in the dance world.

March 10, March 12(m)


Acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie (Lorenzo) Harris creates a highly-anticipated premiere that explores the idea of “exodus” – from one’s ignorance and conformity – as a necessary step toward enlightenment. Set to gospel and house music along with spoken word, the work underscores the crucial role of action and movement in effecting change.

March 9, March 12

Love Songs

Love Songs, a three-part technical and dramatic tour-de-force originally created for the legendary Dudley Williams, is often viewed as the male counterpart to Cry, the famous woman’s solo that Mr. Ailey originally choreographed for his muse, Judith Jamison. Last performed by the Company in 2003, it offers message of hope and commitment as it traces the dancer’s journey through love, anguish, and a determination to overcome adversity.

March 8, March 11, March 13 (m)

No Longer Silent*

Robert Battle’s No Longer Silent is a large ensemble work featuring the imaginative interplay of four groups of dancers evoking a complex and mysterious ritual to Jewish composer Erwin Schulhoff’s percussive score, Ogelala. Originally created in 2007 for The Juilliard School, Robert Battle’s alma mater, it was part of a concert of choreography that brought to life long-forgotten scores by composers whose work the Nazis had banned.

March 9, March 12

Open Door*

Acclaimed choreographer Ronald K. Brown’s Cuban-inspired Open Door is a work for 10 dancers set to the music of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, including songs from their recently released Cuba: The Conversation Continues. Recorded in Havana days after President Obama announced the normalization of relations between our countries, the album is hailed as “an ambitious statement that honors deeply held musical traditions while pushing forward” (The New York Times). Brown’s travels to Cuba inspired much of the movement, from the salsa partnering to the references to Elegba – the Santería god who opens pathways. A testament to the power of dance and music as vehicles for culture and compassion, Open Door marks Brown’s sixth Ailey world premiere.

March 8, March 11, March 13 (m)

Piazzolla Caldera*

Created in 1997, Paul Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera is a sensual exposé of tango as reinterpreted and reimagined with modern dance. Taylor honors the tradition of tango, preserving the essence of the form in his choreography.

March 10, March 12 (m)


Since its creation in 1960, Revelations has consistently enraptured audiences all over the world with the perfect blend of reverent grace and spiritual elation. Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece pays homage to and reflects the cultural heritage of the African-American, what Ailey thought of as one of America’s richest treasures—“sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.”

Revelations will be presented at each performance.

Toccata (Student Matinee performance only)

Toccata is a vibrant episode from 1960’s Come and Get the Beauty of it Hot, created byTalley Beatty. The ballet is described as “set in streets of New York” and incorporates nuances of classic and other dance styles in a jazz idiom.

Special Events

Revelations Wednesday | March 9, 2016 | 5:30-6PM Workshop, 7:30PM Performance

Open to all members of the community, this “real class for real people” offers the exciting opportunity to learn a section of the Revelations choreography from an Ailey dancer. Dance experience is not required.

Revelations Wednesday includes a ticket to the March 9, 2016 performance. More information to be announced.

Young Professionals Night | March 10, 2016 | 6PM Party, 7:30PM Performance

Guests between the ages of 21 through 45 are invited to network and mingle over wine, light bites, and beer provided by Lagunitas in the Auditorium Theatre’s historic Dress Circle Lobby prior to the 7:30PM performance.

The Young Professionals ticket is $45 and includes light food, two drink tickets and a ticket to the Thursday, March 10 performance.

Community Engagement

In conjunction with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performances, the Auditorium Theatre’s Department of Creative Engagement, in partnership with the Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs and the Ailey Extension, utilizes innovative educational programs to engage Chicago Public Schools, other Chicago community schools, and community members.

Revelations Residencies | February 22-26, 2016

For the fourth year, the Auditorium Theatre is partnering with the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) Network to present the Revelations Residency with the North Lawndale and South Side Arts Cluster Schools. In addition, for the first time this year, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Elementary School in Evanston will also be a host site for this unique residency experience.

This five-day residency, led by an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company member, andAiley Arts in Education teaching artists, is an interdisciplinary approach curriculum which uses Alvin Ailey’s life and his signature work, Revelations, as an organizing theme for learning about dance, language arts and social studies.

The Ailey Experience | March 5 & 6, 2016 | (Location & Time TBD)

Featuring traditional spirituals and gospel songs essential to Ailey’s masterwork, Revelations, this workshop with live accompanists is designed to expand on Mr. Ailey’s legacy by making dance accessible to everybody. Dancers have the opportunity to learn from a leading Ailey Extension instructor and a former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Open to dancers ages 13 and up, The Ailey Experience includes a 90-minute West African dance class led by instructor Maguette Camara, as well as a 60-minute in-depth study of Alvin Ailey’s signature work Revelations, led by Ailey Extension Director and former Ailey dancer Lisa Johnson-Willingham.

Workshop Fee: $40 before February 29 and $45 thereafter. More information to be announced.

Ailey Master Classes | March 12, 2016 | 8:30AM & 10:15AM (2 sessions)

The Alvin Ailey master class allows students to learn the technique and style seen in this Company’s performances, while challenging their own skill and creativity. The class will move at an Intermediate-Advanced Level pace. Prior dance experience is required, and dancers are required to dress in proper dance attire.

Master Class Fee: $5-$20. For more information, or to register, go to

Performance and Ticket Information

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 | 7:30PM: Open Door, Love Songs / Awakening / Revelations

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | 7:30PM: Exodus / No Longer Silent / Revelations

Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 7:30PM: Blues Suite, Cry / Piazzolla Caldera / Revelations

Friday, March 11, 2016 | 7:30PM: Open Door, Love Songs / Awakening / Revelations

Saturday, March 12, 2016 | 2PM: Blues Suite, Cry / Piazzolla Caldera / Revelations

Saturday, March 12, 2016 | 8PM: Exodus / No Longer Silent / Revelations

Sunday, March 13, 2016 | 3PM: Open Door, Love Songs / Awakening / Revelations

Tickets start at $33 and are available at, by calling 312.341.2300, or in-person at the Auditorium Theatre’s Box Office (50 E. Congress Pkwy). Discounted subscriptions and tickets for groups of 10 or more are also available.

Student Matinee Performance

Friday, March 11, 2016 | 11AM: Toccata, Revelations

Students get a unique view into the world of Ailey during a special student performance of Talley Beatty’s Toccata and Alvin Ailey’s must-see masterpiece Revelations, moderated by one of the dancers.

The Student Matinee performance is sold out but schools or teachers interested in signing up for the wait list can contact 312.341.2357 or

The Auditorium Theatre’s Student Matinee series is sponsored by The Private Bank and The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation.

About The Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre, 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. In September of 2014, the Auditorium Theatre was awarded the inaugural Fifth Star Award by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The Auditorium Theatre 2015-2016 Season is also made possible in part with support from theMacArthur Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the Sage Foundation, and the Palmer House Hilton. For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theatre tours, call 312.341.2310 or visit For a complete listing of events at the Auditorium Theatre, please click here.

About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents – and has reached millions more online and through television broadcasts.

In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the Company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations. Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Mr. Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work. Today, the Company continues Mr. Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 235 works by over 90 choreographers have been part of the Ailey company’s repertory. Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the Company to unprecedented success. Ms. Jamison, in turn, personally selected Robert Battle to succeed her in 2011, and The New York Times declared he “has injected the company with new life.” For more information, visit

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