Tuesday, May 31, 2011

John Stamos Joins The Beach Boys for Our (Unofficial) Start of Summer June 9

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In case you missed our email announcement last week, John Stamos will join The Beach Boys on stage for their June 9 concert at 7:30pm at the Auditorium Theatre!

40 years ago The Beach Boys released their Sunflower album. 43 years ago they appeared on the Auditorium Stage for the first time, and this June The Beach Boys return to Chicago - celebrating the soon-to-be here summer with their sunny Southern Californian lyrics and vibes.

Don't miss out, great seats are still available! Tickets start at $30 or purchase a VIP ticket and get a prime pit seat to the show and a post-concert meet and greet with The Beach Boys, including specialty drinks and summer fare—all for $250 per person! VIP tickets only available by calling 312.922.2110 x 368.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

50 Years of Revelations [guest post]

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Last week at the Auditorium Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was both a spectacular dance concert and an important history lesson. Gorgeous sculpted bodies performed with such impressive virtuosity that people could barely wait until the bows to cheer wildly. “Amens” periodically burst from the audience, affirming a perfectly executed pirouette or a Michael-Jordan-sized leap.

But what impressed me more than any high kick was the careful and calculated looking back as the company moves on to a new era, passing the baton of Artistic Director from Mr. Ailey’s muse and chosen successor Judith Jamison to choreographer extraordinaire Robert Battle.

This season marks the 50th anniversary of Mr. Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations. The milestone was commemorated by a short documentary, an elegant editing together of vintage dance clips and Mr. Ailey’s and Ms. Jamison’s musings on the intent, power and persistence of Revelations. The work, set in three sections, uses spirituals, gospel songs and blues music to tell the stories of African American faith, joy and perseverance. It is loosely based on Mr. Ailey’s southern upbringing in the churches and cotton fields of 1930’s Texas.

I have seen Revelations before, but never truly appreciated the accomplishment of its immortality. If dog years are seven to one human years, dance years are more like twenty to one. Dances disappear as often as they are made. Although in recent years video has helped preserve the steps, the passion and intent often get lost in the game of telephone that is required to pass down choreography. Just as a painting fades over time, a dance can easily become an archive of steps, devoid of the initial spark that started the fire. I know I’m seeing one of these dances when the dialogue in my head sounds like, “I appreciate and respect what I am seeing. I understand its importance. But I feel nothing in my gut.

When the screen lowered onto the stage and the documentary film began as a preface to Revelations on Wednesday night, I started to anticipate (and dread) that feeling. “I’m in a museum now. This video is the plaque in front of the exhibit, the framework through which I’m supposed to experience the next 20 minutes. I’m meant to appreciate this history and I’m being told (by Mr. Ailey himself!) how to feel. Can I truly experience this dance, here and now, in this moment?” It is the 'liveness' and immediacy of dance that draw me to it. It exists in moving, breathing, thinking, changing bodies. It is different on every stage, with every new dancer and with each new day.

But as Revelations began my nervousness dissipated. This work is the perfect storm of artistic innovation, commercial success and historical staying-power. The Ailey dancers have a great responsibility on their shoulders, to continue to breathe new life into the steps while paying homage to what has come before them. It is a precarious balance of moving forward while looking back, a tight rope act that this company continues to ace – especially as Mr. Battle takes the reins and charges ahead. For me, the lesson was learned. Revelations has a magical timelessness. I both appreciate the history behind it and feel the urgency in front of me. This history is not static or stale; it exists in the sweating, working, beautiful bodies of these talented artists.

The steps and the spirit of Revelations remain as vibrant as ever. Fifty never looked better.

Ed. Note: We invite all our readers to share their thoughts on Revelations in the comments and performance attendees to leave us feedback on Talkbackr.

Lizzie Leopold
Lizzie Leopold is a Chicago choreographer and dance scholar. She is the Artistic Director of the Leopold Group and holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BFA in Dance) and New York University (MA in Performance Studies). Lizzie is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, writing about the intersection of dance and business.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"It all started with a spare ticket." How One Woman Fell in Love With Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater [guest post]

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It all started with a spare ticket. After aerobics class, a co-worker announced that she had a ticket for the next week’s Alvin Ailey performance and was anyone interested? Sure, I said. We agreed to meet at the Artists’ Café to grab a bite before the performance. We hardly knew each other but quickly learned we had dance backgrounds and were forever dance fans.

AAADT's Matthew Rushing, Briana Reed and Rosalyn Deshauteurs in Alvin Ailey's Revelations. Photo by Andrew Eccles.
AAADT's Matthew Rushing, Briana Reed and Rosalyn Deshauteurs in Alvin Ailey's Revelations.
Photo by Andrew Eccles.
The performance was amazing and I had not seen anything like it before. Such magical precision, such exquisite athleticism choreographed to powerful music. It was March 28, 2001 and Stef and I decided we would see them again the following year, no matter what.

Since then, we have invited our friends and families to join us in our annual spring ritual, now in its 10th year. Some of us dine together before the performance and then meet the rest of the group at our seats.

We’ve had lots of fun and many memories. By the time the company performs the masterpiece “Revelations,” many audience members are brought to their feet and are singing and dancing. For as many times as I have seen it, I don’t think I will ever tire of "Revelations" – a favorite is the solo "I Wanna Be Ready." One year, an elderly man who was seated behind us was brought to tears at the end of "Revelations." I will never forget the look on his face – a mixture of grief and joy. I’ve also seen sulky teens and reluctant husbands come alive during a performance. One year, I purchased a 2-CD set with "Revelations" and other music the company has used. It gets regular play and is a personal treasure – it is no longer in production. One of these days, I’ll see the company perform in their hometown of New York.

Being an Alvin Ailey Ambassador has allowed me to share my love for AAADT with friends, family and other dance fans. It has also showcased the fabulous work that the Auditorium Theatre staff accomplishes.

Alvin Ailey said "I believe that dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people." Yes, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has truly delivered in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents, and always in Chicago at springtime.

Ailey Ambassadors are a group of volunteers who's mission is to develop new Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater audiences through grassroots efforts.

Christina Breslow actively seeks and enjoys the art, film, fashion, architecture, music and exhibition programming offered by Chicago’s dynamic cultural organizations. She continues to be an ardent fan of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Her “happiness list” includes enriching must-do’s in Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods and destinations worldwide.

Student Rush: $15 Tickets to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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Photo: Linda Celeste Sims.
Body art by Dante Baylor.
Photo by Andrew Eccles.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
May 18 - 22, 2011

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been thrilling audiences for over 50 years. This year, we'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of their signature piece, Revelations, say goodbye to Artistic Director Judith Jamison and welcome Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle. There’s never been a better time to experience the grace, artistry and athleticism of “possibly the most successful modern dance company on the planet.” The New York Times

Full schedule | Programming | Video

- In person at the Auditorium box office (50 E. Congress Pkwy)
- One hour before show time
- Two tickets per valid college ID

NOTE: Student Rush tickets are last minute tickets sold at the discretion of the presenter. Policies may vary. Tickets and locations are subject to availability and cannot be reserved in advance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tavis Smiley Interviews Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle [video]

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Robert Battle
PBS personality and host Tavis Smiley recently interviewed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle about his personal background and the expectations of his upcoming post. This summer, Mr. Battle is set to replace retiring Artistic Director Judith Jamison as only the third person to succeed the company's long-time leader and founder, Alvin Ailey.

We're excited to have this amazing company returning to our theatre for performances May 18 - 22.

Watch the full episode. See more Tavis Smiley.

Tavis Smiley via Ailey's Blog

Friday, May 6, 2011

Photo Friday: Behind the Scenes with the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg

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Check out these neat behind-the-scenes photos from rehearsal before the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's performance of Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman last month at our theatre. Photos by Gina Ardani.

 See more photos
on our Flickr page.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Q & A with Dancer Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet

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Fabrice Calmels rehearsing Bells
Fabrice Calmels and dancer Valerie Robin rehearsing Bells.
Choreography by Yuri Possokhov, photo By Herbert Migdoll

What roles are you dancing in Rising Stars?
I am dancing in Edwaard Liang's new work, Woven Dreams, as well as Yuri Possokhov's, Bells.

When did you start learning the choreography?
I actually started learning the choreography last year when we had the choreographers come in for a few weeks to begin their creations, amidst preparing for various other upcoming shows and tours. Now they have come back in the last several weeks. We are very close to the performances, and are simply adjusting, fine tuning, and perfecting the nuances of each ballet to be just right for our audience.

How many hours have you spent rehearsing Woven Dreams and Bells?
Unfortunately, there is no way to determine an exact number of hours put into the production because every dancer puts in his or her own personal time in and out of the studio to prepare themselves for this production. Both pieces by Edwaard and Yuri are world premieres and they are great representations of the quality of dancers at the Joffrey. And for that reason, each dancer is committed to the choreography and to showing Joffrey at its best.

Fabrice Calmels rehearsing Bells (with choreographer Yuri Possokhov and dancer Valerie Robin)
Fabrice Calmels rehearsing Bells
(with choreographer Yuri Possokhov
and dancer Valerie Robin).
Choreography by Yuri Possokhov,
photo By Herbert Migdoll.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Rising Stars program?
I have to say, I think Rising Stars is an amazing program. When there are new works created on us as dancers and when there is a high expectation for successfully displaying a new work of art, we are constantly growing and improving the program. The two world premieres are so fresh and completely molded for the individual Joffrey dancer that each dancer is constantly finding our own voice in these works, and we wouldn't have it any other way. The pieces are growing and becoming better, which we didn't think was possible because it is new, it is ripe, and there is nothing stagnant about it. We aren't learning old works and are not simply filling a role that has been done before by someone else. When roles are created on your body, it allows you to bring a unique fervor to the work. I recommend our audiences buy tickets for both weekends because I guarantee you will be surprised to see the artistic evolution even within our two week run.

Describe a typical performance day.
Up until performance time, the work we have put in for these pieces has been nothing short of what I call a Titan workout. Choreography was given to us as dancers every day, and so at any given time you would see us constantly practicing to get the movements right, partnering to find the right musicality, getting familiar with the music to understand the tempo, each other, and our interpretations. We worked hard to sync up with one another to make a cohesive unit on stage. Now that the work off the stage has been done and its performance time, I rely on all that work I have put in until now to guide me, and just focus on enjoying my job. I leave myself plenty of time backstage to warm up, prepare my make-up, and mentally get myself to a place where I will enjoy the moment on stage rather than worry about the steps. The work has been done, and now is time to enjoy it.

Rising stars is a very exciting program, and is certain to be the final star of the Joffrey Ballet for the 2010-2011 Season.

Joffrey Ballet Rising Stars
May 14-15, 2011
Three contemporary choreographers partner with the powerful Joffrey dancers to push the boundaries of dance while exploring the lives we live in our dreams.

Woven Dreams, Choreography by Edwaard Liang
Bells, Choreography by Yuri Possokhov
Night, Choreography by Julia Adam

For more information and exclusive behind-the-scenes clips, visit http://www.joffrey.org/risingstars.

Fabrice Calmels Headshot_ATRU Blog
Born and raised in France, Fabrice Calmels began ballet training at age 3, following in the steps of his younger sister. In 1991, Mr. Calmels entered the Paris Opera School, under the direction of Claude Bessy. Mr. Calmels joined The Joffrey Ballet in 2002. Since joining the Joffrey, Mr. Calmels has performed in Age of Innocence, Apollo, Carousel a Dance, The Clowns, I/DNA, In the Middle…Somewhat Elevated, In the Night, Italian Suite, Light Rain, Les Noces, The Nutcracker, N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz!, Le Sacre du Printemps, “…smile with my heart,” Suite Saint Saëns, Valentine, Midsummers Night Dream, Apollo, Othello and After the Rain.

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