The Auditorium Theatre announces programming for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s March 4-8, 2020 performances in Chicago, featuring Midwest premieres and Ailey classics. The company will premiere three works: Ode, created by Ailey dancer and the company’s first-ever Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts; Greenwood, Donald Byrd’s ensemble work inspired by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre; and Ounce of Faith, Darrell Grand Moultrie’s ode to teachers and mentors. The engagement also includes Chicago premieres of BUSK, Aszure Barton’s 2009 work premiered by the Ailey company in 2019, and The Call by Ronald K. Brown, an exuberant mix of modern and West African dance. The company brings new productions of Ailey Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison’s Divining and Lar Lubovitch’s Fandango, along with audience favorites In/Side and Ella by Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Aszure Barto’s Busk Photo by Paul Kolnik
The theatre’s opening night program (Program A -March 4 at 7:30PM and March 7 at 2PM) features the Chicago premiere of internationally renowned choreographer Aszure Barton’s BUSK, an intricate ensemble work that invites audience members to revel in the fragility, tenderness, and resilience that exist within the human experience. It has been described as watching the physical unfurling of the human psyche. Under Barton’s direction, every angle of the dancers’ bodies and minds are engaged, and the complex layering of movement reveals the inherent wisdom of the body. Barton expresses, “What I’ve realized through my interest in multitasking, which makes out the mind, which then creates a super interesting and profoundly beautiful vocabulary, allows for this genuine humanity to be exposed. Multitasking not only awakens the body, so it is alive, but there is nothing left. You cannot do anything other than completely be present and rely on the body itself.” BUSK is Barton’s second work for the Ailey company, following 2013’s LIFT.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Jamar Roberts Ode Photo by Paul Kolnik
Program A also includes the premiere of Jamar Roberts’ Ode, a meditation on the beauty and delicateness of life in a time of growing gun violence. Ode starts with a man on the ground and ends in the same fashion. Often, the dancers are connected, holding hands and forming a human chain with their arms. They rise, and when they fall, the movement is attuned to a loud bass note, which makes the performance resolute and riveting. Roberts, who began dancing with the Ailey Company in 2002, was named Ailey’s first-ever Resident Choreographer in 2019. Ode is his second work for the company and the first in a series of three new works he is creating as Resident. In an interview with AADT, Roberts shares his inspiration behind his dauntless work. “The original inspiration for this work really started to take root a couple of years ago when there was constant coverage in the media of innocent, unarmed Black men being shot and killed by the police. Being a Black man myself, I found this disturbing and extremely heartbreaking. Ode is a work that displays feelings of both hope and despair and puts them right next to one another.” Roberts hopes for this work is that it will both agitate and inspire the audience, allowing them to witness the power of art and its ability to spark conversations that can lead to significant change.
AAADT in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photo by Nan Melville
Keeping with Chicago tradition, every performance ends with company founder Alvin Ailey’s signature work and masterpiece Revelations. Revelations is a classic tribute to the resolve of a people and reflects the cultural heritage of the African-American, which Ailey considered one of America’s most precious treasures – “sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” AADT boasts, “Set to an array of traditional spirituals, Revelations explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition, from the deepest of grief to the holiest joy.” More people around the world than any other modern work have seen revelations. Auditorium Theatre CEO Rich Regan proclaims, “The Auditorium Theatre is proud to have this world-class dance company as one of its Visiting Resident Companies, and our 130th anniversary season would not be complete without them. I still remember my first time seeing Revelations, which moved me in a way that I had never before experienced while watching dance. It is an honor to present Ailey every year and to share this legendary company with the city of Chicago.”