By Catherine L. Tully
I have literally grown up with this building in my life, and my journey in dance would not have been the same without it.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to take me to see performances there. We’d sit way up in the gallery seats, bringing our pop-up opera glasses to see the dancers on stage a little bit better. I can recall watching many a ballet from there, and at that height you notice a lot about the patterns! This was the also the stage where I saw Nureyev perform—one of the most amazing things any dancer could ever hope to see.
After studying at Chicago City Ballet School for a number of years in my teens, I was invited to perform Balanchine’s Four Temperaments with the company on stage at the Auditorium. I was thrilled—and terrified. This was not like being a child in The Nutcracker where you are on stage with fancy clothes and big set pieces among a sea of others. This ballet left you nowhere to hide. Only a handful of dancers were on stage at one time, costumes basically consisted of a leotard and tights, and the choreography was challenging—so my first time on this tremendous stage came coupled with a lot of pressure.
Nureyev’s autograph on an Auditorium program!
I can still recall the thrill of it—dancing something from my favorite choreographer—on my favorite stage. Frightened as I was to be out there, it was exhilarating as well. As I looked out into the darkness at the end of the performance, I thought briefly about how odd it was that I was now on the other side of things—no longer a spectator. It was truly something I never could have imagined when I attended all those years before with my mom.
Fast-forward to the present day in my current role as editor/owner of 4dancers.org, a blog for dancers on the web, and once again the Auditorium plays a central part in my life. Things have come full-circle—I have returned to the audience—but this time in yet a different role. Now I attend to review companies such as the Joffrey Ballet and to help sponsor and support wonderful events like Dance for Life Chicago. It’s funny how things have a way of working out in a way that you never could have anticipated, isn’t it?
I took my niece to see Joffrey’s Nutcracker for the very first time in December, and I watched as her eyes opened wide with wonder as we walked into the theater to find our seats, soaking in all of the gold and grandeur. It took me back to those days with my mom, and I remembered how it felt to see that theatre through the eyes of a child.
As I think about all of the good times that I’ve had at the Auditorium I can’t choose just one moment to highlight, but I can say this—experience has taught me that it’s likely there are many more to come.
And I look forward to them all.
Catherine L. Tully is the owner/editor of 4dancers.org, a blog for dancers, dance teachers and those who love dance. She serves as the Outside Europe Representative for the National Dance Teachers Association in the UK and has over 40 years of experience in dance as an instructor, educator, performer and writer.