Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 

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I remember driving home from the Ailey company's final performance of its last engagement here, on a Sunday afternoon in May 1994. I was stopped at the big bend of Lake Shore Drive, where it turns into Sheridan Road, and I saw a trio of elderly women stumping along the sidewalk arm in arm. Their painfully slow and undancerly progress filled me with joy--the result, I knew, of having just watched Judith Jamison's Hymn, which celebrates through dancers' words and movements the spiritual striving that's at the center of all great dance. The paradox of this magnificently trained company--a truly elite assemblage--is the way it accomplishes its populist mission, celebrating in often astounding movement our commonality. And Jamison, who replaced Ailey as artistic director when he died, isn't the kind of choreographer to keep such incredible dancers all to herself. The troupe has often performed the work of Ulysses Dove, who's obsessed with the way sexuality alternates between repression and explosion; new to the Ailey troupe this season is his 1990 Urban Folk Dance, which Doris Hering describes in Dance Magazine as "a maelstrom with the structural discipline of a fugue." Also part of these programs is a new piece by the choreographic team of Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith, Fathers and Sons, which promises to deliver their trademark blend of quirky psychology and quirky movement. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, March 28, at 7:30; next Friday, March 29, at 8; next Saturday, March 30, at 2 and 8; and next Sunday, March 31, at 3 (see listing for detailed program descriptions). At the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $15-$40. Call 831-2822 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Roy Volkmann.

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