|Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s
Sarah Daley. Photo be Eduardo Patino.
I’ve been dancing since I was about 5 years old. I was a an active kid, always underfoot, so my mom thought dance class would be a good place to put me. I’ve stuck with it ever since.
This is my second season with Ailey. Previously, I was in Ailey II for two years and am a graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program.
Being with Ailey has given me the opportunity to tour to and perform in some really amazing places I might not have been able to see on my own. My favorites so far have to be Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris, France; and Tel Aviv, Israel. All three cities are beautiful in such different ways. What they all have that appeal to me are the rich histories they carry that you can see simply by walking around and looking at the architecture. Being able to visit places I’ve only read about and then stumbling on a hidden gem only the locals know of can happen all in the span of a day. The people I would meet on a daily basis were friendly, warm and eager to share knowledge of their culture to anyone who took the time to listen.
The Auditorium Theatre holds a very special place in my heart. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and passionate about dance, I would always have to make the trip to the city to get my fix of professional performances. In the “nosebleeds” of this theater is where I first experienced performances by the Joffery Ballet, The Bolshoi, The Eifman Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. From the first time I sat in the audience I was hooked. Anytime one of these companies came to Chicago it was an event for my dance friends and me. My mother and teacher would coordinate a trip for our studio, we all dressed in our best clothes (usually adorned with sparkles), chipped in a few dollars weeks before and rented a limo to take us to see the ballet! I remember my friends and I saving money leading up to the trip so at intermission we could buy some soda and candy at concessions and stand around discussing what we had just witnessed. It was all very sophisticated.
|Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Sarah Daley,
Megan Jakel and Rachael McLaren in Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16.
Photo by Paul Kolnik
After the performances we would make a mad dash to the alley behind the theater to catch the dancers on their way out and beg with our best puppy dog eyes for their signatures. I still have a program from an Ailey performance in 2002 signed by some of the people I now call coworkers and friends. That still amazes me.
Having the chance to return to this theater, as a company member now, is surreal to me. I happened to be off on our opening night this year and was able to watch the performance from the house, something I haven’t done since high school. The weight of what that meant didn’t escape me. Coming back to the theater that helped keep my love of concert dance alive, and beginning a new relationship with it is very special. Chicago has such love for Ailey and I’m lucky that I get to be a part this annual reunion.