Cool fact, in 1941 the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago closed its doors to the public due to the Great Depression. During this time, many businesses were affected. During the depression, the theatre was only used as a safe haven for servicemen during World War II and its grandeur fell hidden behind unfinished renovations and unused. A fundraising campaign lasting 7 years led by Beatrice Spachner and the Auditorium Theatre Council successfully refunded renovation costs reviving the theatre back to life and resulted in its grand re-opening on October 31, 1967. That night, the Auditorium Theatre hosted New York City Ballet for A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring principal dancers Edward Villella and Suzanne Farrell, who served as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 50th Anniversary Celebration that took place earlier this month.
Chicago never ceases to amaze me. The rich history this beautiful city harnesses makes me proud to be born and bred here. I may be an expat at heart and know one day during my lifetime I’ll relocate to some international city continuing the pursuit of my travel dreams, but one thing I’ll never forget is where I’m from, “Sweet home, Chicago.” Attending the Auditorium Theatre’s 50th Anniversary in celebration of dance made me appreciate my home-town even more. To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I’ve seen so many remarkable shows at this theatre and didn’t know about its historical roots until now. But that’s the beauty of history, it’s a time capsule waiting to be discovered at any time. What's remarkable is the Auditorium Theatre initially opened in Chicago in 1889 and has since hosted companies including the Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and Martha Graham Dance Company, all well as many other ensembles that graced the stage the night my mother and I attended the celebration. After Edward Villella shared his nostalgia as a dancer throughout his years, traveling through all parts of the world, and how the Auditorium Theatre captured his heart as soon as he stepped foot on stage, the curtains raised and the show began.
Megan Fairchild and Daniel Ulbricht from the New York City Ballet opened up with choreographer George Balanchine’s Tarantella. One of my favorite performances. There was something about both dancers as they slid across the stage, slapped palms across tambourines and the chemistry behind every kiss, spin and back jerk that screamed the grit of New York.
Each performance gave a vivid depiction from the inception of the Auditorium Theatre, the grimm and dark period of the theatre’s closure during the Great Depression - the Hubbard Street Theatre brought that moment in history back to the present through their Solo Echo Excerpt choreographed by Crystal Pite, the grand re-opening and 50 years of what I like to call it, “The Golden Age of Dance” that graced the stage until now.
If you’re a Chicago native, a traveler passing by, or just haven’t gotten a chance to experience a show at the Auditorium Theatre, I highly recommend making it a priority on your bucket list. I just found out the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is bringing six performances led by Artistic Director Robert Battle to the Auditorium Theatre starting March 2018 and tickets are currently on sale here. If you bump into me during their showcase, don’t be afraid to say hi :)
The next time you walk through the doors of the Auditorium Theatre, remember you’re not just experiencing a great show. You’re not just immersing yourself in some form of fine arts. You are apart of history. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to join in on the 50th Anniversary Celebration. To many more years.
For more information on upcoming shows, visit http://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/.
Photos by Kristie Kahns
*THE AUDITORIUM THEATRE PROVIDED TICKETS TO A GOLDEN CELEBRATION OF DANCE: 50TH ANNIVERSARY RE-OPENING SHOWCASE COMPLIMENTARY. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.