Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Auditorium Theatre in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Chicago Wednesday.

Hosea Sanders sat down with artistic director Robert Battle, who has helmed the ever-innovative company for the past decade.

"We are so delighted and excited to be coming back to Chicago, it's so meaningful for us to be there at the Auditorium Theatre with such great fans, like you said, staunch fans of the company," Battle said. "We got it for you, we're going to deliver."

Battle couldn't know he was destined to lead the Alvin Ailey dancers when he first saw them as a child of poverty near Miami. The company would go on to be his true "home."

"I grew up being bullied and all of that because I wanted to dance, and I was singing and I was into the arts, but dance has been my passport to the world," he said.

He's also learned much about himself in the 10 years he's been helming the dance company.

"We have a purpose beyond entertaining, to educate and inform," Battle said. "The company was founded by Alvin Ailey in 1958 on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement. He started this company because he didn't see stories being told about our people on the concert dance stage."

"People often say you don't just see an Ailey performance, you feel it and you take it with you, and you can't wait to have that uplift again and again," he added. "He wanted it to be about the people and come from the people and back to the people, so that's why we remain on top. What he was really trying to do was hold up a mirror to society, so that people could see how beautiful they are and that, to me, is where we really are important in this moment."

"People often asked me when I got this position, oh boy, you're filling big shoes. I was like, oh no, I've got my own shoes, but I'm standing on shoulders," said Battle.
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