Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Chicago

Twenty-five years after his death, the legacy and impact of Alvin Ailey on American contemporary dance cannot be disputed. His dances are ones that never get old; watching Revelations and Pas de Duke is like seeing a page out of the history book of dance. You would think we would be tired of them by now… but the Ailey company continues to fill houses and bring audiences to their feet – even all these years later.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in Aszure Barton's LIFT. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in Aszure Barton’s LIFT. Photo by Paul Kolnik

The ability of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to maintain its mission and vision through the death of its namesake is largely attributed to Judith Jamison, who led the company from 1989-2011. Now in the hands of Robert Battle, the Ailey company continues to thrive, making new works that beautifully accompany the classics that made them so famous. This weekend and next, Chicago’s dance audiences will have a chance to see Ailey live in a mixed program at the Auditorium Theatre. It’s a standing engagement for Ailey to come to the Auditorium. In fact, I remember seeing them as a college freshman in 19–… let’s just say it was when you could still get a student ticket for $10 and be seated in a box. So, a long time ago…

On this year’s program are four Chicago premieres, including Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, Bill T. Jones’  D-Man in the Waters,  Ronald K. Brown’s Four Corners, and a world premiere by choreographer Aszure Barton called LIFT. The bill varies between performances, with the one consistency being Revelations, of course. Other classic Ailey works pepper the run, including Pas de Duke, The River, and Night Creature.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs  Feb. 28 – Mar. 9 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 E. Congress Pkwy). Specific times and programs are listed on the Auditorium Theatre’s website. Tickets are $32-92, available at, by calling (800) 982-ARTS (2787) or at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.