Friday, October 3, 2014

American Ballet Theatre's April Giangeruso - My Time With ABT

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Hello, Chicago! My name is April Giangeruso and I am a Corps de Ballet dancer with American Ballet Theatre. This upcoming tour will be my third time performing with ABT at the gorgeous Auditorium Theatre. My first time dancing here was in 2010 in Swan Lake, and subsequently in 2012 in Giselle. During the 2010 tour I was a very new 3-month member of ABT, and I remember being so excited to perform my favorite ballet for the first time. It was a surreal experience realizing that I was once a baby ballerina aspiring to one day be in ABT’s Swan Lake, and now it was really happening. I will always have a soft spot for that particular tour. 

One of the best parts of being a dancer with ABT is our touring schedule. Not only do we live and rehearse in one of the most exciting cities in the world, but we also get to see the rest of it doing what we love. Every corner of the world has a special character and unique culture, which always bestow priceless memories on each of us dancers. In August, ABT had its first ever tour to Australia! It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of a historic tour for the company during our 75th Anniversary Season, not to mention getting to hold a koala and pet kangaroos. Above all, the ABT family is truly special. Getting to visit all of these beautiful places, with the best people is something I could never replace. There may be societal notions that dance is sometimes competitive and hostile, but I can truly say that ABT is both a supportive and loving environment.

My career thus far at ABT has been nothing short of a dream come true. Born in Maryland, I attended ABT’s 
Swan Lake when I was 5 years old and told my mom I wanted to be a ballerina. Even at a very young age, teachers practically had to drag me out of the studio when class was finished. I just didn’t want to leave! I moved to NYC, shortly thereafter joined the JKO School at ABT, then ABT II, the former junior company, and after two years joined ABT in 2010. I have worked extremely hard in my 4 years with the company, always wanting to perform more roles that I feel will challenge me, make me improve, and show my capabilities as a dancer.

In the Saturday matinee at 2PM and Sunday matinee at 3PM, I will have the privilege of performing one of the Principal couples in Twyla Tharp’s Bach Partita. This is my first Principal role with the company, which is so exciting to me and my family who will be attending the performances. Tharp’s choreography is a full mind and body experience, the process has been so rewarding and getting to work so closely with Susan Jones, ballet mistress at ABT, is invaluable to my growth as a ballerina. 

I hope that my career with ABT will be a long and great one; I have never even imagined dancing anywhere else. 890 Broadway is where I feel my home really is, we may need a few fresh coats of paint on the walls, but even so, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else Tuesday-Saturday 10am-7pm. Simply put, ballet is what I wake up for, what I think about, and what makes me the person I am. At 23 years old, I can only hope that the next 23 years will be just as thrilling, hopefully still with ABT, and inspiring the next generation of dancers as this generation has inspired me. 

April performs with American Ballet Theatre during their run at the Auditorium, October 3 – 5.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Help Us Reach WWII Veterans

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We are only a week out from the opening of our 125th Anniversary Season and the festivities are starting to roll. Auditorium received the 5th Star Award from the city in a free ceremony in Millennium Park on September 17th, street banners heralding our anniversary have gone up on Michigan Ave (later our banners will take over State Street), and preparations are underway for a spectacular December 9 Gala, a journey through the life of our theater called Living The History.

Did you know that during WWII Auditorium Theatre was used by the United States Military as a Servicemen’s Center, providing free services to our troops in training? You may know the iconic photo of the bowling alley that occupied our stage at the time. Although it wasn’t about the amazing art that normally takes our stage, we are very proud of this part of our history, and we will be paying special tribute to our veterans during our December 9 Gala.

As part of our efforts to use this year’s celebration to preserve our past, we are reaching out to any veterans, volunteers, or staff that were part of this time in our history. In fact, a few weeks ago we had the privilege of sitting down with Don Farley, a veteran that was inducted into the Army in the Summer of 1942 and sent to Chicago to train at a radio operating school. A musician himself, Mr. Farley fondly recalls taking advantage of the Servicemen’s Center’s offerings of tickets to Chicago Symphony Orchestra and dancing with volunteers at events hosted in our building. It was remarkable to talk with someone who had experienced this part of our story and we are eager to find more people to talk to.

We plan to capture interviews with as many of these veterans and volunteers as we can throughout our anniversary season, but we need assistance getting the word out. Can you help? We are putting out the call below to the world. We are asking everyone to post it, or email it, or just shout it from the rooftops so that we can reach as many people as possible. You never know who you know who knows someone who knows someone. We need to make sure this part of the history of our country and building is preserved. If you can help us out, we would greatly appreciate it.

A Call for Veterans Who Trained in Chicago During WWII
and the Volunteers and Staff who made their training possible

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University is looking to make contact with any WWII veterans, volunteers, or staff that worked in Chicago and were at Auditorium during WWII, when our theater was used as the Servicemen’s Center from 1941-1945. We hope to conduct in-person interviews with anyone who was involved in this part of our history. We would also be interested in locating a small number of those who are now based outside of Chicago.

Any veterans, volunteers, or staff that respond will be asked to do a short interview on camera. If that is not possible, phone interviews may be an option. These volunteers will also be invited to our gala performance on December 9, featuring a special tribute to this part of our history.

Interested parties may respond to:
Will Rogers
Project Manager, 125 Anniversary
Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University


Phone: 312.341.2331

Mailing Address:
50 E. Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60605

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Internship Conclusion - Luke Bandoske

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To say this summer flew by would be a vast understatement. Though my time at the Auditorium Theatre was short-lived, I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed myself more while getting the hands-on experience of arts administration in the marketing realm. Not only has this internship made what I’ve learned in classes relevant while extending my knowledge past the books, but it also made me grow on a professional and personal level.

Putting the work-load aside for a moment, the history of the Auditorium Theatre is incredible. As the largest theatre in Chicago and one that will be celebrating its 125th Anniversary this December, the Auditorium Theatre is unlike any other around. I was lucky enough to learn the history very fast by not only attending one of the two weekly tours that Patron Services hosts, but also creating my first internship project: a historical timeline in PowerPoint for a Press Tour Conference.

Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the dynamic and famous architectural partnership, both brought their unique brilliance together to create Chicago’s Landmark Stage™, which originally opened in 1889. On the press tour, I was educated at how acoustically sound the theatre is. Christina Bourné, the Director of Education as well as a beautiful soprano voice, sang “Home Sweet Home” from the stage, which was the same song that Adelina Patti sang on opening night. Without a microphone and with all of the press on the 6th floor gallery, every word that she sung was heard without confusion. It was INCREDIBLE!

Aside from being acoustically sound, the theatre has an endless amount of unique features like being the first theatre with air conditioning, using 3,500 electric incandescent light bulbs, the decorative golden arches, politically-positioned boxes, and a lot more! From being a hotel and office to a bowling alley to a World War II servicemen’s center to closing down and being reopened, the Auditorium Theatre’s history is a rich one. The stage has seen array of different artists ranging from Broadway tours to premier ballet companies to rock stars such as Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen and most recently Jack White. Being surrounded by something so beautiful with an extensive historical story is sort of an overwhelming feeling and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to market such a wonderful place.

If I were to explain everything I learned and took part in throughout this experience, you would be reading this blog for quite a few hours. Instead, I will share some of the highlights of my time here. The most prominent responsibility that comes to mind was social media. I monitored and engaged consumers on multiple different social networking platforms, input a social media plan into the calendar, helped create the “125th Anniversary Season T-Shirt Contest” campaign, live-tweeted events such as the Floyd “Money” Mayweather Press Conference and even created graphics and updated their website at times.

Other responsibilities of mine included attending and working special events like the Summer Solstice party and the Group Leader Party, helping with upcoming merchandise for the 125th, learning how to order brochures and other marketing materials, researching potential audiences and even brainstorming for upcoming production’s. I also was able to attend many meetings with different promotional organizations like See Chicago Dance and WXRT to discuss and understand ad buying.

Lastly, I was asked to participate in the creation of two different film projects. Both projects were tons of fun! The first video we filmed was for National Dance Day since the Auditorium Theatre hosts many, many dance companies. We filmed in the beautiful theatre, in the company’s offices and even filmed in our staff meeting. The second video was filmed the day after and will be used as a promotional American Ballet Theatre video. I’m not going to give many details away, but let’s just say that I was required to wear a sailor outfit and dance around Chicago!

The Auditorium Theatre administrative staff is committed to creating an educational and real-world internship program.  I’m a public relations major with a minor in theatrical studies and since they knew of my background they made it a priority for me to attend weekly meetings with Carol Fox & Associates, their out-of-house public relations firm. Additionally, I attended other departmental meetings and helped where I could to leave me with a more well-rounded understanding of arts administration. I can’t thank the administrative staff enough for all of the insight and tools they have given me, and I definitely cannot wait to return for some of their 125th Anniversary Season productions!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Auditorium Employee Retires After 47 Years

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After 47 years, our long-term employee Frank Romeo is retiring. His last day at the Auditorium is this coming Sunday. We found this fantastic article about Frank in the Summer 2007 issue of Roosevelt University Magazine. Thank you for your years of service Frank! Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

125th Anniversary T-Shirt Design Contest

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125th Anniversary T-Shirt design Contest

An Open Call to All Artists and Creatively-Inspired Individuals!

In celebration of the Auditorium’s 125th Anniversary Season, we are excited to launch the #MyAudTShirt Design Contest!  Whether you are inspired by the building’s rich history and architectural grandeur, the wonderful performers that have graced the stage, or the upcoming 125 Anniversary celebration all season long, we are looking for fresh, new ideas on what we should be wearing this upcoming season!

Need more inspiration? Check out the 125 things that inspire us in the video below!

The first round of the contest launched on June 30, and will remain open through August 15. Contestants must enter a photograph of their t-shirt design with a short explanation as to why they feel it celebrates the Auditorium’s rich 125 year history. A judging panel, taking into consideration popular vote, will determine the top five contestants to move on to the final round. The final round will start on August 19 and remain open through September 1, with one winner selected by popular vote.

Grand Prize

  • Two tickets to every Auditorium Theatre show in our 2014-2015 Season (limited to Auditorium Theatre presentations only)
  • Compensation of $125
  • Your design printed in limited run and sold at the merchandise counter throughout the 125 Anniversary Season (2014-2015 Season)
  • Your shirt printed and ready to wear in the size of your choice!
  • One entry per person
  • Please specify what color shirt you’d prefer your design printed on
  • Design can be hand drawn or digitally designed
  • Only one side of the shirt will be printed on
  • Submitted designs will become sole property of the Auditorium Theatre.
  • The artists will be compensated for any design printed for merchandise.
Contest opens: June 30
Round one closes: August 15 at 11:59pm
Top 5 contestants announced/voting for final round opens: August 19
Final round closes: September 1 at 11:59pm
Winner Officially Announced: September 2
Must hashtag: #MyAudTShirt AND #Aud125 (both!) when entering, sharing and promoting your design via social networks.

Click here to enter the contest!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reflecting on My Internship - Omane Adu-Brako

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I came in like a wrecking ball!  Just kidding.  I did begin my internship in the marketing department at a really great time.  Things were hectic, crazy, and actually quite fun!  It was during the theatre’s longest running performance – Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.  What a treat!  I had not seen that company since I was in high school.  I fell in love all over again.

First things first, during my first week I received a semi-private, hour-long tour of the theater.  It’s crazy
because I have walked past the theater’s “secret door” entrance plenty of times as a student without even realizing the magic within.  Of course, I can’t disclose the location to said door; that part of the mystery you will have to come and see for yourself.  I’m a history lover, so the tour guide had me at hello.  I was aghast that the Auditorium Theatre only became registered as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1975. Equally astonishing is that the Auditorium, during hard times, almost became a parking lot!  The building was completed in 1889 equipped with 4200 seats; the original seats are still in the upper balcony.  The architecture was designed by the famous architects Dankmark Adler and Louis Sullivan. Frank Lloyd Wright was an apprentice of theirs during the building of the Auditorium. Two more history facts and I’m done, I promise.  In a time of no air conditioning the Auditorium figured out a way to keep their patrons cool using air ducts and ice in the ceiling of the theater.  The last fact is a direct quote from one of its founders.  Sullivan said “If you want to see, you will sit in the middle, if you want to be seen you will sit in the box seats.” This retort was in response to the upper class patrons who expected to sit away from the other patrons.  This perfectly summarizes a place whose ideals of inclusion are not just limited to where patrons sit, but to the variety of artists that are brought to its stage.

So what have I done here? I’ve had the pleasure of telling people about our performances in a variety of ways.  My first project was to reach out to local businesses for our Alvin Ailey performances.  I sent out letters, solicited eblast trades with like organizations, and made plenty of phone calls. I helped out at our Young Professionals pre-show event, where our Junior Board made appeals for membership.  I was able to attend the opening of Alvin Ailey, I had never been to any show’s opening so this was thrilling! I was ecstatic that I could bring my mom and aunt to share in this experience with me.  The Alvin Ailey dancers were quite simply stunning. After the show there was post work to be done.  The marketing team stayed after to capture audience reactions from the show in order to upload the video to our YouTube page (I hope you are a subscriber to the channel!) Also, I created a tracking report which allowed me to analyze the tickets sold for the Ailey performances.  Through this I categorized specific inventory of all the discount codes and special pricing offers.  Seeing the revenue produced from the show was great, since sometimes as an intern you are removed from this sort of information.  Part of the duties of being an intern is doing ad clippings. This means cutting out and filing all of the advertisements the theatre places for its shows.  For the Ailey performance run, I had the additional responsibility to create a fine-tuned scan binder of all of the advertisements where our sponsors were featured.
Also during this internship I contributed ideas that were utilized for social media campaigns. I created advertising placements with a major magazine and radio station, which I was really excited about.  In addition, I also tweaked copy for these opportunities.  Without going into a laundry list of things I accomplished, I will say that I felt that my time here was impactful.

While here, my desk was located in the Department of Creative Engagement so I was able to hear action items important to that department as well, namely securing teachers and resources for our ArtsXchange and Hands Together, Heart to Art (HTHTA) program. Right now they are gearing up for HTHTA summer camp.  Additionally, I was able to speak to the other department heads (Development and Operations) in order to achieve a more rounded internship experience.  Today is my last day, sigh… but I had the opportunity to see so many wonderful performances while here. Did I mention this excellent perk? :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Look Back: Israeli Folk Dancing, Idan Raichel and My Year Spent in Israel

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Tonight at 7:30 pm, The Idan Raichel Project graces our landmark stage for a night of world-music and a wonderful blend of cultures.  After tonight’s two-hour concert, we also invite audience members to join the Chicago Israeli Dancing organization in our Katten/Landau Studio for an interactive Israeli folk dance class. Click here for more information about the performance tonight.

A Look Back: Israeli Folk Dancing, Idan Raichel and My Year Spent in Israel

By Auditorium Theatre Production Associate Matthew Tepperman

In anticipation of tonight’s performance of The Idan Raichel Project at Auditorium Theatre and the subsequent post-show, folk dancing event in the Katten/Landau Studio held by the Chicago Israeli
Dancing organization, I would like to share a story about myself.

I am not a professional dancer or ballerina at all. In fact, if you met me in person, you’d say I’m as graceful as an elephant. And you’d probably be right at that, too; however, there’s something about Israeli Folk Dancing that makes me feel like I have been a dancer all my life. 

When I was eleven years old, I learned about Israeli Folk Dancing at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.  As campers, my friends and I each participated in a quick dance class as we were sampling through all of the arts activities. We learned a few easy dances for the week before moving onto the next activity.  At the end of the week before the lunch hour, the camp took a half hour of free time to perform these dances at a large area down by the lake.  At that point, those who knew or wanted to learn the dances would all participate in a really fun afternoon of Israeli Folk Dancing.  There were campers and staff of all ages that joined in and soon enough, the whole area was filled with folk dancers!  I remember as a camper, or even later as a staff member at Camp Ramah, if it was a Friday afternoon before lunch, I would be dancing down by Lake Buckatabon with more than half the camp while the rest watched on.  And even after all these years, I still remember those dances.

Let’s then flashback to eight years ago. I had recently graduated high school and made the decision to defer my freshman year of college to study and live in Israel for the year. One of my first memories of living in Israel is of participating in a great night of Israeli Folk Dancing. A handful of my friends and I were walking through Emek Rafaim in Jerusalem and went to one of the school halls nearby that hosts many nightly programs for adults. When we got there the room was already full of people dancing in a giant circle. It took a minute to understand the choreography mid-dance, but as soon I picked it up, I jumped right in and felt like I had been doing it for years. That’s the great thing about folk dancing: it’s very communal, very fun to participate in, and anyone can do it.

As someone who has lived in Israel and experienced the culture and even seen The Idan Raichel Project live in Israel before, I can’t help but think back to those fond memories. This is mainly because everything The Idan Raichel Project does musically is so memorable. I can still recall the past two times I saw him live and what I was doing. The collaboration of additional cultures into melodies that the group produces, and the amount of energy the singers put into their performance is almost unparalleled. They always make the experience not just intimate and enjoyable, but very meaningful as well.  As a fan of The Idan Raichel Project and as someone who has experienced the culture, I cannot be more thrilled that they will be performing at Auditorium Theatre.

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