Vernard Hello, I’m Vernard Gilmore and I’ve been a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1997, so this is my 20th year!.

I was born and raised in Chicago, on the South Side. I left Chicago at 19 to pursue my dream to be an Ailey dancer. I had great teachers, who exposed me as a student to the arts and theater in Chicago.

My first time inside the Auditorium Theatre, I was 16. My dance teacher Ms. Holda brought us to see Dance Africa. We sat in the nosebleed section, way up. I remember being afraid to stand up all the way. But when the performance began and the dancers filled the aisles with this amazing energy and color, we could really see how beautiful the theatre was and how it invited you into a new world.

Coming home to Chicago and performing at the Auditorium Theatre was emotional, to say the least. I felt a tremendous amount of gratefulness that I can now come back and share, on this stage, at this theatre, to my hometown. Looking out when you’re onstage, the house gives you an overwhelmingly welcoming feeling – intelligently built for the audience and the artist.

Being offered the chance to perform at the 125th anniversary of the Auditorium Theatre was my most memorable and proudest moment at the theatre. It felt like I had come full circle, grateful and proud.

I really enjoy the warmth that the theatre and the people who work at the theatre give when I’m there performing. It becomes a sacred space.

I’m especially excited about Johan Inger’s Walking Mad, a great work that stretches your boundaries of what we consider real. Great revivals like Mr. Ailey’s Maskeka Langage ground you and resonates our realities. And Billy Wilson’s excitingly challenging Winter in Lisbon will inspire and make audiences want to get up and dance. I hope to see you all at the Auditorium Theatre this March!