Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater visits the Auditorium Theatre for 10 performances, February 28 -March 9, 2014. The company will bring three programs, each featuring different pieces from their repertoire. Learn about the pieces in Program A below!

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Chroma** / Four Corners* / Revelations
Friday, Feb 28 at 7:30PM
Sunday, Mar 2 at 3PM
Thursday, Mar 6 at 7:30PM
Saturday, Mar 8 at 8PM
* Chicago Premiere
** Company Premiere

Chroma – Choreography by Wayne McGregor


Wayne McGregor’s CHROMA from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

The groundbreaking British choreographer’s contemporary ballet is full of sensory suprises: sumptuous movement, a driving score by Joby Talbot with orchestrations of songs by The White Stripes, and a luminous set by minimalist architect John Pawson.

“Often in my own choreographies I have actively conspired to disrupt the spaces in which the body performs. Each intervention, usually some kind of addition, is an attempt to see the context of the body in a new or alien way. On reading John Pawson’s Minimum I was captivated by this notion of subtraction, the ‘essential’ space, which seems to reduce elements to make visible the invisible. Intriguingly, although Pawson’s designs do give definition to space(s), they are somehow always boundary-less. This potential ‘freedom space’ would be an extraordinary environment for a new choreography, where the grammar and articulation of the body is made crystal clear, graphic and unmediated. It could be a space where the body becomes absolutely architectural. At the same time, in creating volume(s) of tone for the choreography to inhabit the body can behave as a frequency of colour – in freedom from white: CHROMA.”

“I heard Joby Talbot’s Hovercraft piece for orchestra and felt its immediate physical impact – visceral, unsettling, hungry and direct. These short five minutes became our keystone to unlocking a strangely seductive score that tensions the aggressive force of the White Stripes with the enigmatic beauty of Talbot’s own compositions.” -Wayne McGregor

Four Corners – Choreography by Ronald K. Brown
Ronald K. Brown’s FOUR CORNERS from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

In Ronald K. Brown’s Four Corners, 11 dancers depict spiritual seekers amid four angels standing on the corners of the earth, holding the four winds. In creating his fifth commission for the Ailey company since 1999, the celebrated choreographer turned to the song “Lamentations” by his friend, recording artist Carl Hancock Rux. Drawing from West African and modern dance influences, Brown uses grounded, earthy movements to portray figures who are burdened by grief but ultimately find peace, solace, and freedom with the aid of “the angels in their corners” mentioned in Rux’s text.

While Four Corners is not a literal interpretation of Rux’s lyrics, Brown drew inspiration from the text to manifest storytelling through choreography. Brown expressed his love for poems, stating: “There’s something about the rhythm, and something about the richness of the spoken word that goes right into my heart. When I’m dreaming about movement or seeing movement, poetry comes out.” Though the friendship between Brown and Rux began decades ago, Four Corners provided the first opportunity for choreographer and composer to create a dance work together.

Halfway through the work, there is a palpable shift in energy as the music changes to an undulating, pulsing lullaby by North African vocalist Yacoub, indicating that the winds of change are blowing. Brown also makes use of music by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Costume designer Omotayo “Wunmi” Olaiya, a long-time collaborator, created flowing garb in rich purples, grays, and blacks. The New Yorker recently hailed Brown as “the choreographer best able to give the virtuosic dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater works as powerful as their technique. His compositions are hard to resist.”

The ballet is inspired by text from recording artist Carl Hancock Rux’s “Lamentations”:

Away they fall
All who stand
At the four corners of the earth
With blades and sheaths
These

Yours is simply this

Command and stand up
Stand
You are beautiful
And lovely
Beautiful and lovely

Revelations – Choreography by Alvin Ailey


Alvin Ailey’s REVELATIONS from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

Using African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. More than just a popular dance work, it has become a cultural treasure, beloved by generations of fans.Seeing Revelations for the first time or the hundredth can be a transcendent experience, with audiences cheering, singing along and dancing in their seats from the opening notes of the plaintive “I Been ’Buked” to the rousing “Wade in the Water” and the triumphant finale, “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”

Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the African-American cultural heritage —“sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” This enduring classic is a tribute to that tradition, born out of the choreographer’s “blood memories” of his childhood in rural Texas and the Baptist Church. But since its premiere in 1960, the ballet has been performed continuously around the globe, transcending barriers of faith and nationality, and appealing to universal emotions, making it the most widely-seen modern dance work in the world.