Alvin Ailey's dance theater celebrates 50 years

May 18, 2011 10:06:26 AM PDT
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre is back in Chicago to celebrate its 50th anniversary of the company's signature masterpiece ''Revelations'' by Alvin Ailey.

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University is hosting six performances and two student matinees, May 18-22. The engagement includes six Chicago premieres -- including two pieces by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle -- and marks Judith Jamison's final season as Artistic Director.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
May 18-22
Auditorium Theatre
50 E. Congress Parkway
Chicago
Tickets: 800-982-2787

RELEASE - The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (ATRU), 50 East Congress Parkway in Chicago is proud to present the return of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, known as an American cultural ambassador to the world, for six performances and two student matinees, May 18-22, 2011. The program celebrates the 50thanniversary of the Company's signature masterpiece "Revelations" by Alvin Ailey. The engagement also includes six Chicago premieres (including two pieces by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle) and marks Judith Jamison's final season as Artistic Director. A short film by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Judy Kinsberg, also making its Chicago premiere, will introduce all performances of "Revelations." Tickets are now on sale, starting at just $30 and available by calling 800-982-2787 or online at ticketmaster.com/auditorium

"If there ever was a year to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, this is it," explains Brett Batterson, Executive Director of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. "The Company is at an exciting time in its history. First, we gratefully salute the incredible legacy of Artistic Director Judith Jamison during her final season; secondly, we offer a look towards the future with several works by Robert Battle who will, in July 2011, become the third Artistic Director of the Company and lead it into exciting new directions. In addition, we are thrilled to celebrate the 50thanniversary of 'Revelations,' certainly one of the greatest dance pieces of the 20thcentury and one of the most celebrated by an American choreographer."

Among the six Chicago premieres are "Anointed," (2010) in which former Ailey company member Christopher L. Huggins makes his first contribution to the company's repertory with a new creation using music by Moby and Sean Clement. Hailed by The New York Times as "dancer-impressive and audience-wowing," the piece pays homage to Ailey's present, past and future, loosely chronicling Jamison's introduction to the company, the passing of leadership from Alvin Ailey to Jamison, and her, in turn, passing the torch to Battle.

Two works by Battle, "The Hunt," (2001), and "In/Side," (2008), will have their Chicago premieres during this engagement (Ailey II performed "The Hunt" in Chicago during the Chicago Dancing Festival 2010) "The Hunt" Battle's athletic work for six men, reveals the predatory side of human nature and the primitive thrill of the hunt. A thundering percussion soundtrack by Les Tambours du Bronx drives the work's explosive movement, running the gamut from modern sports to the rituals of gladiators. The New York Times described "The Hunt" as showcasing the "virtuosic, athletic energies of the Ailey men as well as an appropriate acknowledgment of Battle's new presence." In "In/Side," the vivid emotions of Nina Simone's "Wild is the Wind" to play out in a gripping male solo. Battle's bold, unrestrained signature style is evinced in this visceral cry of pure physicality. The New York Times called "In/Side" "a worthy addition to the Ailey repertoire" and describes Battle using the music "to great theatrical effect as an emotive aural layer, while the extreme, knotty movement suggests a soul damaged by more than romantic entanglements."

    Other Chicago premieres include:
  • "Forgotten Time" (1989). In Judith Jamison's quietly uplifting work, the haunting, otherworldly sounds of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares channels 12 dancers on a journey through ancient rituals and tribal rites of passage. Moments of complex partnering, dramatic imagery and breathtaking stillness are part of a sophisticated choreographic structure that evokes deep emotions and echoes with universal significance.
  • "The Evolution of a Secured Feminine" (2007). The female soloist in Camille A. Brown's witty portrayal veers between uncertainty and carefree confidence to the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson. Using fast footwork and taut gestures, she explores the notions of femininity with humor, candor and impeccable timing.
  • "Three Black Kings" (1976). Alvin Ailey's three-part ballet, set to Duke Ellington's last major score, brings to life Balthazar, the Black King of the Nativity; Solomon, King of Israel; and Martin Luther King Jr., a personal friend of Ellington, whose triumphs are celebrated in the inspiring finale. Sophisticated, lush and alluring, Ellington's music became part of a legendary collaboration with Alvin Ailey and left an indelible mark on American dance.

No Ailey engagement would be complete without "Revelations," Alvin Ailey's iconic signature masterpiece, this year celebrating its 50thanniversary. "Revelations," performed on all programs of this engagement, is a tribute to the African-American heritage and to Ailey's genius. Using African-American spirituals, this suite explores the places of deepest grief and the holiest joys in the soul. For the first time in Chicago, and in honor of the 50thanniversary of this work, the piece will be introduced with a short film, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Judy Kinberg, which includes historic performance footage and interviews with Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison.

Another favorite on this season's program is "Night Creature" (1974), the definitive Ailey homage to the exuberance of Duke Ellington's jazz. One of Ailey's most classically choreographed ballets, it depicts a series of sexy nocturnal rituals that propel the movement toward a fast-paced, cathartic climax. "Suite Otis," (1971) choreographed by former Ailey dancer and Tony Award-winner George W. Faison, is set to the timeless music of Otis Redding.

Performance schedule and programs are:

Wed., May 18 at 7:30 p.m.: Anointed*, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine*, The Hunt*, (Film*), Revelations
Thurs., May 19 at 7:30 p.m.: Night Creature, In/Side*, Forgotten Time*, (Film*), Revelations
Fri., May 20 at 7:30 p.m.: Night Creature, In/Side*, Forgotten Time*, (Film*), Revelations
Sat., May 21 at 2 p.m.: Anointed*, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine The Hunt*, (Film*), Revelations
Sat., May 21 at 8 p.m.: Three Black Kings*, Suite Otis, In/Side*, (Film*), Revelations
Sun., May 22 at 3 p.m.: Anointed*, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine, The Hunt*, (Film*), Revelations
* indicates Ailey Chicago premiere

Single tickets are now on sale and range in price from $30 to $87. They can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787, by visiting Ticketmaster.com/auditorium or in person at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office, 50 East Congress Parkway.

There will also be student matinee performances on Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20 at 11 a.m. The Ailey student matinee performances are available to elementary through high school student groups of 10 or more people. Group tickets are $12 and available by calling 312-431-2357.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is part of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University's 2010-2011 International Dance Series.


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