Auditorium Theatre Celebrates 60 Years of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


Addie Whisenant, John Raitt and Jill Svoboda (photo by Robert F. Carl).

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On Wednesday, March 6, 200 guests gathered for the Auditorium Theatre’s Celebrating Ailey Soirée, following the opening night performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The evening commemorated the Ailey company's 60th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the company's first performances at the historic Auditorium Theatre in 1969. All proceeds raised from the event benefit the Ailey company's continued engagements in Chicago at the Auditorium.

The evening began at the Auditorium Theatre with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Midwest premiere of its brand-new hip-hop ballet, Rennie Harris' Lazarus (co-commissioned by the Auditorium). Guests – including Ailey artistic director Robert Battle and dancers from the company – then moved to Venue SIX10 for drinks, a buffet dinner, and dancing, with music provided by a live DJ. Party-goers mixed, mingled and took photos with props in an Ailey-themed photo booth. 

​Battle, along with Rachel Freund, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Auditorium Theatre and Judie Moore Green, Chief Development Officer of the Auditorium Theatre, gave remarks at the event, acknowledging the company's strong history in Chicago and at the Auditorium

"We thank the Ailey company for making the Auditorium Theatre their Chicago home," Freund said.

Green added, "I saw Ailey for the first time in March of 1998, and I was forever changed ... and here we are in 2019, and the tradition continues."  

Battle shared a story of his first time coming to Chicago with the company. 

"I knew that this would be a wonderful relationship, and it has proven to be true," he said. "I really want to thank you for embracing us for these many years. Because of this, we know we have a future."

The Celebrating Ailey Soirée was chaired by Michelle T. Boone and Virginia and Norman Bobins and sponsored by CIBC and The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation. 

​Commissioning support for Lazarus was provided by the Auditorium Theatre with sponsorship support from Ariel Investments, Avison Young, and Svoboda Capital Partners.

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