Alvin Ailey Chicago Auditorium Theatre

Featuring Awakening, Robert Battle’s First World Premiere Since Becoming Artistic Director, Three New Productions from Late Founder Alvin Ailey, plus his Must-See American Masterpiece Revelations

The Auditorium Theatre’s annual Chicago presentation of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will bring a wide array of premieres, new productions, and classics to life on its landmark stage Tuesday, March 8 through Sunday, March 13. Beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, Alvin Ailey’s pioneering legacy of uplifting, uniting, and celebrating the human spirit lives on in the movement of Ailey’s extraordinary dancers. Ticket prices start at $33 and can be purchased online at, by phone at 312.341.2300, or in-person at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E. Congress Parkway). The Auditorium Theatre will also present a sold-out student matinee on March 11.

“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been a symbol of excellence in dance for nearly 60 years,” said Auditorium Theatre Board of Trustees Chairman Charlie Gardner. “Serving as the Chicago home for such an esteemed dance company is an honored tradition, and the Auditorium Theatre is fortunate to once again share their diverse repertory with our community.”

Robert Battle's Awakening“I am excited to share with Chicago audiences my world premiere, Awakening, new works by visionary choreographers like Ronald K. Brown and Rennie Harris, as well as enduring classics by Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey,” stated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Robert Battle.  “At this year’s Auditorium Theatre engagement, 31 extraordinary dancers will share performances that enrich our society and stir our souls, building upon Ailey’s proud legacy of inspiring, enlightening and uniting.”

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February 12, 2015 by 

Launch Party and Frankie Knuckles Foundation Benefit at The Underground Nightclub March 31

Frankie KnucklesA new feature film, THE WAREHOUSE, will celebrate the Godfather of House Music, GRAMMY Award-winning Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014) and Chicago’s legendary Warehouse afterhours club, where the internationally recognized House Music genre was born.  The film will be produced by Bob Teitel (Men of HonorBarber Shop), Billy Dec (Rockit Ranch/Elston Films), Randy Crumpton (The Truth) and Joe Shanahan (Metro/Smartbar/Double Door).

The film will pay tribute to the life story of The Warehouse owner Robert Williams and the legacy of Knuckles’ timeless artistry.  Knuckles inspired a movement, transforming the music scene at Williams’ groundbreaking club The Warehouse, with Knuckles’ unique mix of pulsating rhythm and beats, combined with classic disco, soul, gospel and rock, creating modern dance music’s global DJ culture.  Williams’ Warehouse, shortened to “House” by its followers, is where House Music got its name.

[Read more]




Morgan Freeman

“A Candid Conversation with Morgan Freeman” Brings Together Two of Hollywood’s Biggest Talents Saturday, June 7 at the Ritz Carlton

Morgan Freeman and Jon TurteltaubJon Turteltaub, one of the most successful feature film directors in Hollywood, will lead a candid and thought-provoking conversation with Morgan Freeman at the Gene Siskel Film Center’s 2014 gala, “A Candid Conversation with Morgan Freeman,” on Saturday, June 7.  The festive evening will celebrate the Academy Award®-winning actor’s legendary career and give attendees insight into his favorite projects, key influences and creative process. A retrospective of film clips from his most memorable performances will accompany the conversation. The evening will culminate with the presentation of the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Renaissance Award to Freeman by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) President Dr. Walter E. Massey.

Turtletaub recently directed Freeman in the hit comedy “Last Vegas,” co-starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline.  He is known for various powerful and emotional films including "The Kid," "Instinct," "Phenomenon," "Cool Runnings," "While You Were Sleeping" and "3 Ninjas." Turteltaub also produced and directed the blockbusters "National Treasure," "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”  Television viewers will recognize him as the executive producer and a director of the hit series "Jericho" and the thriller “Harper’s Island.”

“Once again, the Gene Siskel Film Center will bring the A-List of Hollywood’s film industry to Chicago,” said Chair of the Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board Ellen Sandor.  “To have the intellect and experience of the great Morgan Freeman paired with the genius and insight of Jon Turtletaub will treat our audience to a truly special evening.”

The gala is co-chaired by longstanding GSFC supporters and Advisory Board members Eda Davidman and Melissa Sage Fadim.  All proceeds support the Gene Siskel Film Center’s eclectic film programming as well as lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers.  This programming provides the opportunity for students and the Chicago community to experience the best in film presentation. The annual fundraiser is the primary event that ensures that the GSFC can continue to present the highest quality films and film-related events in Chicago.

“Morgan Freeman is a true living legend,” said GSFC of the SAIC Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin. “In a film career that spans more than four decades and an incredibly diverse canon of roles, audiences have come to expect that Mr. Freeman will deliver performances that are insightful, moving and always memorable.  The instantly recognizable, deep resonance of his voice brings a distinctive richness to every film he appears in or narrates. It is a great honor for us to welcome him to Chicago as we salute him for mesmerizing movie-goers throughout the years.”

Each year, the Gene Siskel Film Center celebrates the art of film by honoring a filmmaker who advances the art of cinema. Past Renaissance Award honorees have included some of the most respected actors and directors working in the film industry today, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., George Lucas, Nicole Kidman, Bob Balaban, John Woo, Michael Mann, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman.

About Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman was awarded the Academy Award® for best actor in 2005 for his performance in “Million Dollar Baby” and has been nominated four additional times.  The Golden Globes awarded him the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2012, and he also won a Golden Globe for his performance in “Driving Miss Daisy.”  He won the Screen Actors Guild Award in 2005 and has thrice been nominated for acting awards by the Chicago Film Critics Association. His first credited film performance was in 1971's “Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow?” and television audiences came to know him for his appearances on “Another World” and “The Electric Company.” Equally adept in dramatic and comedic roles, some of his most memorable film performances include “Batman Begins,  “Bruce Almighty,” “The Bucket List,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Glory,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Seven,”  “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Street Smart” and “Unforgiven.” He directed the critically acclaimed “Bopha!” in 1993, the story of a South African policeman during apartheid. He frequently serves as the narrator for films and television programs, notably for “March of the Penguins.”

Tickets and More Information

The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago proudly presents the Renaissance Award Gala in honor of the Academy Award ®-winning actor and director Morgan Freeman Saturday, June 7 at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, 160 E. Pearson Street. Single tickets range in price from $500 to $1,000 (VIP). Table sponsorships range in price from $5,000 to $50,000.  Call (312) 846-2072 for tickets, tables or more information.

About the Gene Siskel Film Center

The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago celebrates cutting edge film programs, independent and international cinema, premieres, retrospectives and classic films. Internationally recognized for its original film programming, the Film Center is a vibrant cultural destination in Chicago that attracts a diverse and creative annual audience of over 70,000.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

A leader in educating artists, designers and scholars since 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers nationally accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees and post-baccalaureate programs to nearly 3,200 students from around the globe. SAIC also enables adults, high school students, middle school students and children to flourish in a variety of courses, workshops, certificate programs and camps through its Continuing Studies program. Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students unparalleled opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities, while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields. SAIC's resources include the Art Institute of Chicago and its new Modern Wing; numerous special collections and programming venues provide students with exceptional exhibitions, screenings, lectures and performances.  For more information, please visit

The Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC are part of The Art Institute of Chicago. For more information about the Art Institute please visit


In the News: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Returns to the Auditorium Theatre  


FEBRUARY 28 – MARCH 9, 2014 

Alvin Ailey Returns to the Auditorium Theatre

Artistic Director Robert Battle Leads the Company During 23-City U.S. TouMarking 25 Years Since the Passing of Founder Alvin Ailey

Special Program Highlights Collaboration between Ailey and
The Great Jazz Musician, Duke Ellington

Celebrating the life and legacy of Alvin Ailey and his innovative, inspiring and thrilling work, 25 years after his passing, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, “long one of the nation's more cherished troupes,” (“Chicago Tribune”) graces the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University’s landmark stage February 28 – March 9, 2014 as part of a 23-City U.S. Tour. Robert Battle returns for his third year as Artistic Director to lead the world renowned company as they continue to inspire and delight audiences with both new work as well as traditional pieces that have made “the Cultural Ambassadors” a staple on the international stage. Tickets ($32 – $92) are on sale now and available online at, by calling (800) 982-ARTS (2787) or at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

A Student Matinee performance is offered on February 28, open to any elementary through high school student for $12 each. Student matinee tickets are currently sold out. To be added to the waiting list, please call (312) 341-2357.

“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual residency at the Auditorium is a highlight of our season for both our audience and our supporters. The Auditorium is delighted to be the company’s Chicago home and host to the longest run of domestic performances by the company outside of New York City” said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson. “We are honored to have these multi-faceted dancers, under the incredible leadership of Robert Battle, return year after year—treating our audiences to classic masterpieces as well as astounding new work. Sublime artists like the Ailey dancers have allowed the Auditorium to flourish for 125 years, and their continued presence on our stage will help the theatre survive for another 125 years to come.”

Alvin Ailey Dancer

Building on his first two successful seasons with the company, Artistic Director Robert Battle who “…[takes] the troupe in new directions while maintaining its beloved traditions,” (“Chicago Tribune”) continues to enhance the already rich repertory of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by combining a vibrant array of new choreographic voices with classical and traditional pieces. “While the Ailey company knows how to cater to audiences, a more gratifying truth has emerged: The dancers are also generous with choreographers” (“The New York Times”). This is seen through their eclectic programming during the 2014 North American tour featuring new work, new choreographers and new vision. The Chicago program, featuring four Chicago premieres, includes Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma;” “LIFT,” the propulsive world premiere by in-demand choreographer Aszure Barton; Bill T. Jones’ New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning work, D-Man in the Waters;” “Four Corners,” the fifth piece choreographed for the Alvin Ailey dancers by renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown; three of Alvin Ailey’s own pieces set to the incredible music stylings of the late Duke Ellington including “The River,” “Night Creature” and “Pas de Duke;” as well as Ailey’s personal masterpiece, “Revelations.”

Artistic Director Robert Battle stands by Ailey’s mission to inspire audiences in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.  Battle’s vision allows Ailey’s extraordinary artists to push their limits with a diverse repertoire while connecting to audiences on various emotional levels.

“I’m thrilled to further expand Ailey’s diverse repertory with new voices and talented contemporary choreographers that showcase the depth and breadth of the dancers’ artistry,” said Battle. “Audiences will be treated to bright new voices while also seeing some of the most renowned pieces re-imagined for the Ailey dancers. It always feels like ‘coming home’ when the company arrives in Chicago and we are embraced by the Auditorium audiences. We are thrilled to continue that long-standing tradition in 2014.”

Program Details


The Ailey company premiere of Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma,” (2006) made possible in part by the generous support of New York City Center, marks the first time a work by this multi award-winning British choreographer will appear in the Ailey repertory.  Set to an amalgam of original music by Joby Talbot and orchestrations of music by Jack White III of The White Stripes, the layered ballet explores McGregor’s curiosity of a concept freed from whiteness and the drama of the human body.  Originally created for The Royal Ballet, a luminous, minimalist set designed by architect John Pawson uses motifs of inside and outside, entrance and exit, light and shadow, void and plenitude, to create a spatially charged environment explored through the medium of the ten dancers’ bodies. Said Robert Battle, “One of the things that I love about mounting this ballet is that, because of the demands of the dynamic choreography and the striking set, it involves a team effort from every person involved with Ailey.”


This propulsive world premiere by in-demand choreographer Aszure Barton, her first commission for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, accentuates the vitality and physical prowess of the Ailey dancers. Driven by the dancers’ passion, skill and collective power, “LIFT” (2013) was created over a 5-week developmental process with the entire Company. With a collaborative stylistic approach that is constantly evolving, Barton’s exhilarating new work, set to an original percussive score composed by Curtis Macdonald, celebrates and challenges the dancers with its markedly intricate rhythmic patterns and mercurial structure.  “LIFT” embodies an atmosphere and energy created by our time spent together in collaboration,” stated Barton.  “I feel very welcomed by the Ailey family and am honored to be working with such a wonderful group of artists.” Added Battle, “I’ve known Aszure for many years and have watched her develop a unique voice, with bold choices in her choreography and in her approach.  Her work is physically demanding, detail oriented, visceral, and both abstract and dramatic – a great fit for the Company.  I was interested in the dancers having a process that was really motivated by their artistry and, after spending time with the dancers on tour, she used the inspiration of seeing and experiencing them in many different settings as the impetus for the entire work, including the score by her collaborator Curtis Macdonald.”

D-Man in the Waters

Bill T. Jones’ New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award-winning work, D-Man in the Waters (Part 1),” (1989, revised 1998) is a true modern dance classic and a celebration of life and the resiliency of the human spirit that embodies loss, hope and triumph. Set to Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1825), the work is one of the finest examples of the post-modern aesthetic and was featured in PBS’s landmark film “Dancing in the Light: Six Dances by African-American Choreographers.” Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater first performed choreography by Bill T. Jones in 1983 when Ailey himself invited him to create “Fever Swamp” for the Company. Jones choreographed and performed worldwide with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, for which he has created more than 140 works.  Serving as the Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts since 2011, Bill T. Jones is also the recipient of numerous recognitions, including the Kennedy Center Honors; Tony Award (“FELA!” and “Spring Awakening”); Obie Award; the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award. Alvin Ailey took a strong interest in Bill T. Jones early on in his career and continued to encourage his unique work,” said Battle. “Inspired by one of his dancers who died of AIDS, Demian Acquavella, “D-Man in the Waters (Part I)” was created in 1989, the year that Alvin Ailey and so many others were dying from the disease.  What’s interesting is that the work is really about joy and a celebration of life – an acknowledgment of death but filled with a sense of transcendence.”

Four Corners

“Four Corners,” (2013) the fifth work choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown, brings to life the vision of four angels standing on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds.  Set to the music of Carl Hancock Rux, Brown draws inspiration from the lyrics of Rux's "Lamentations," following eleven dancers on a powerful and hope-filled journey of tribulation, devotion and triumph. Know for his signature blend of modern dance and West African idioms in works that often stimulate deeper examinations of spirituality, community responsibility and liberation, Brown’s work has had a significant impact on the Ailey dancers who are now known as inspiring interpreters of his unique dance storytelling.


In a program aptly titled Ailey/Ellington, ballets showcasing the marriage of Alvin Ailey’s choreography and Duke Ellington’s music will be presented including “Night Creature” and new productions of “Pas de Duke” and “The River” restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya.

The River

“The River” (1970) is Alvin Ailey’s acclaimed collaboration with the late musical genius Duke Ellington, choreographed and composed in 1970 for American Ballet Theatre and first performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1980. One of 14 dances Ailey created to Ellington’s music, “The River” was Ellington’s first symphonic score written specifically for dance.  Combining classical ballet, modern dance and jazz, the suite suggests tumbling rapids and slow currents on its voyage to the great sea, mirroring the journey of life. With Ailey’s mixture of light and fun yet dark and romantic choreography balanced with Ellington’s score, the work is an abstract celebration of birth, life, and rebirth. “The River” has been restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya for several companies in addition to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “This particular Ailey piece shows his range as a choreographer, and certainly the versatility of the dancers,” said Battle. “Mr. Ailey always seemed to have a passport through all different genres of dance while still retaining his own essence.”

Night Creature

Combining modern dance, classical ballet and jazz, “Night Creature” (1974) is another perfect fusion of Alvin Ailey’s buoyant choreography and Duke Ellington’s sparkling music. Ellington first composed the phenomenal, "Suite For Orchestra" in 1955, later adding the second and third movements in 1963. He said that “night creatures, unlike stars, do not come OUT at night– they come ON, each thinking that, before the night is out, he or she will be the star.” This large ensemble work is full of such stars—strutting, leaping and slinking across the stage. “Night Creature” is the definitive Ailey homage to the exuberance of “The Duke's” jazz, and remains one of his most popular works.

Pas de Duke

Pas de Duke” (1976) was Alvin Ailey’s modern dance translation of a classical pas de deux honoring two of the most renowned dancers in the world, Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov while celebrating the musical genius of Duke Ellington. Last staged for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during the 2006-2007 season, “Pas de Duke” was originally presented as part of the festival “Ailey Celebrates Ellington” at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater in 1976, commemorating the nation’s bicentennial with America’s two great art forms - modern dance and jazz music. Ailey choreographed five sections capturing the sassy sophistication of “The Duke’s” jazz music: the introduction to “Such Sweet Thunder” (1957); the pas de deux to “Sonnet for Caesar” (1975); the male solo to “Sonnet for Hank Cinq” (1957); the female solo to “Unclothed Woman” (1948); and the finale to “Old Man’s Blues” (1930), which captured the exuberance of the star dancers’ qualities and techniques as the male and female soloists mirror each other toe-to-toe and line-for-line in this playful, good-natured competition. “Created especially for Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov – reigning stars at the time from parallel worlds of dance—‘Pas de Duke’ showcases so much of Alvin Ailey’s appreciation and ability to showcase great dancers while combining great dance with great music,” said Battle.


Rounding out the program is one of Alvin Ailey’s personal masterpieces that has become a signature American classic. “Revelations,” (1960) a suite of dances that fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul, will be performed at each performance throughout the two week engagement.

Community Engagement Programming

In tandem with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Auditorium’s Department of Creative Engagement utilizes innovative programming to engage Chicago students and the community by highlighting the importance of dance and artistic expression.

The Alvin Ailey Chicago Master Class Series allows both students and adults the unique opportunity to learn from some of the most accomplished dancers working today. Classes take place over two weekends, March 1 and 8. March 1 will feature two FREE high school classes in hip-hop and “Horton Technique.” March 8 will feature an adult master class in jazz technique and costs $20 per person. All classes limited to 30 participants. For more information or to sign up, please email or call (312) 341-2340.

The Department of Creative Engagement will also present the 2014 Ailey Residency Program. Various junior high schools from the Chicagoland area will participate in a five-day program, February 17 – 21, where they will learn about community building and expression through dance. Led by former principal Ailey dancer Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, as well as other teaching artists, the program allows students to tell their own stories through the creation of personal dance. The students will not only create their own pieces of dance but they will also learn part of the signature Ailey piece, “Revelations.”

Finally, the Auditorium Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present Alvin Ailey Family Day at the South Shore Cultural Center on February 22. As part of the City of Chicago’s Black History Month celebrations happening at park districts around the city, Ailey Family Day will give Chicago families the opportunity to work with Ailey teaching artists and dancers while enjoying a myriad of other fun activities. The day will consist of rotating dance and fitness classes like Zumba, Pilates, Werg and more, as well as arts and crafts stations where you can make your own “Revelations” fan. The day will conclude with a special dance experience learning a portion of “Revelations.”

Various other activities are planned during the residency program and will be announced at a later date.

Program Schedule and Ticket Information

Week 1

Friday, Feb. 28 | 7:30pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations
Saturday, March 1 | 2:00 & 8:00pm: LIFT / D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) / Revelations
Sunday, March 2 | 3:00pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations 

Week 2

Wednesday, March 5 | 7:30pm: Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations
Thursday, March 6 | 7:30pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations
Friday, March 7 | 7:30pm: LIFT / D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) / Revelations
Saturday, March 8 | 2:00pm: Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations
Saturday, March 8 | 8:00pm: Chroma / Four Corners / Revelations
Sunday, March 9 | 3:00pm: LIFT / D-Man in the Waters (Part 1) / Revelations

Tickets are $32 - $92 and are available online at, by calling

(800) 982-ARTS (2787) or in-person at the Auditorium’s Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

Discounted tickets available to groups of 10 or more are available by calling (312) 341-2357.

There will be a student matinee on Friday, February 28 at 11 a.m. The Ailey student matinee performance is available to elementary through high school student groups of 10 or more. Student matinee tickets are currently sold out. To be added to the waiting list, please call (312) 341-2357.

Auditorium Theatre 2014 Subscriptions

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is part of the Auditorium Theatre’s 2013-2014 Dance Series, that also includes Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s “Songs of the Wanderers” (March 14 & 16), Houston Ballet’s “Aladdin” (March 22-23), River North Dance Chicago (April 12), and The Paul Taylor Dance Company (May 17-18).

Dance Subscriptions – discounted at 30% off individual ticket prices - start at only $80 and are on sale now. A Select Your Own Series is also available at a 15% discount.  For more information or to purchase a subscription call (312) 341-2357 or visit

For more information, visit


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2014 Chicago engagement is supported by Arts Midwest. BET Networks is the Opening Night Sponsor. The Private Bank and The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation are sponsors of the Auditorium Theatre’s student matinee series, including the Ailey student matinee performance.

About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” grew from a now‐fabled March 1958 performance in New York that changed forever the perception of American dance. Founded by Alvin Ailey, and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the Company is now led by Robert Battle, whom Judith Jamison chose to succeed her on July 1, 2011. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents, promoting the uniqueness of the African‐American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition. In addition to being the Principal Dance Company of New York City Center, where its performances have become a year‐end tradition, the Ailey company performs annually at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami‐Dade County in Miami, The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark  where it is the Principal Resident Affiliate), and appears frequently in other major theaters throughout the United States and the world during extensive yearly tours. The Ailey organization also includes Ailey II (1974), a second performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School (1969), one of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, which brings dance into the classrooms, communities and lives of people of all ages; and The Ailey Extension (2005), a program offering dance and fitness classes to the general public, which began with the opening of Ailey’s permanent home—the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the dance capital of the world —named The Joan Weill Center for Dance, at 55th Street at 9th Avenue in New York City.  For more information, visit

The 2014 U.S. Tour is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. The company premiere of “Chroma” is made possible in part by the generous support of New York City Center. American Express is the lead funder of “D-Man in the Waters (Part I).

About the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University 

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, located at 50 E Congress Pkwy, is an Illinois, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural, community and educational programming to Chicago, and to the continued restoration and preservation of the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Theatre. The Auditorium Theatre is generously supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the NIB Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council and the Palmer House Hilton. For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theatre tours, call (312) 341 – 2310 or visit

Auditorium Theatre’s 2013 - 14 Season:

The full Auditorium Theatre 2013 – 14 season includes Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s Songs of the Wanderers (March 14 and 16); Houston Ballet’s “Aladdin” (March 22 – 23); Chick Corea and Béla Fleck (April 5); River North Dance Chicago (April 12); “The Idan Raichel Project” (May 15); and The Paul Taylor Dance Company (May 17–18). For a complete listing of events at the Auditorium Theatre, please click here.

In the News: Duke Ellington's Queenie Pie Comes to Harris Theater

queenie pie


In one of its most ambitious projects to date, Chicago Opera Theater (COT) will collaborate with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra (CJO) to present the Chicago premiere of Duke Ellington’s only opera Queenie Pie, running February 15 – March 5 at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Street.  Tickets ($35 - $125) are now on sale.

Duke EllingtonFeaturing a rousing musical score that blends Ellington’s signature big band sound and clever lyrics with the musical styles of opera, jazz and musical theater, the opera will be conducted by CJO Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg, with direction and choreography by Ken Roht.  Originally commissioned by New York PBS affiliate WNET as a television piece for Lena Horne and featuring a libretto by Betty McGettigan, Queenie Pie was unfinished at the time of the Ellington’s death in 1974.  Chicago Opera Theater’s production, like the handful of productions mounted by other companies in the past, interpolates additional songs from Ellington’s canon to complete the score, and features a new adaptation of the libretto by Ken Roht, as well as new orchestrations by Jeff Lindberg.

Queenie Pie is a neglected gem, fascinating musically, dramatically and historically,” said Andreas Mitisek, COT’s General Director.  “In keeping with our mission of producing adventurous opera experiences, particularly new and rarely performed work, we are excited to bring Chicago audiences a largely unknown piece by one of America’s greatest composers.”

Madame CJ WalkerEllington’s “street opera” tells a story inspired by the life of Madam C. J. Walker, the first female African-American self-made millionaire, who developed and sold a line of hair and beauty products.  Queenie Pie’s business is challenged by competing entrepreneur Café Au Lait, a younger, light-skinned beauty from New Orleans.  Set in the Harlem Renaissance, the story has been refocused for COT’s production by the creative team.  “The goal is to contemporize the piece, and also to make the piece timeless, while dealing with challenging social issues that seem to persist,” says Director/Choreographer Ken Roht.

Reviewing a 1986 production of the opera, Robert Palmer, writing for the New York Times, called Queenie Pie a “wonderfully vital and coherent work. In fact, it is something of a marvel. One could justifiably call it a comic opera, since the narrative is advanced primarily through song and recitative…. a superior evening's entertainment, but, more importantly, it is an evening worthy of Duke Ellington's talents.”

Los Angeles-based director and  choreographer Ken Roht has staged Long Beach Opera’s productions of Poulenc’s “The Breasts of Tiresias,” Bohuslav Martinu’s “Tears of a Knife” and Robert Kurka’s “The Good Soldier Schweik.” Roht relishes the opportunity to work on “Queenie Pie” saying, “It is an honor to lend my perspective to the original libretto…It remains an ebullient melodrama due to Mr. Ellington’s amazing, multi-faceted music and the story’s dreamlike, highly allegorical plot of two vastly different women, who are very much the same.”

Queenie Pie is the second co-production shared between Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera, both of which are under the direction of Andreas Mitisek.

The cast of Queenie Pie includes Karen Marie Richardson, best known for her Chicago performances in “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah” in the title role; Anna Bowen as Café O’lay; Keithon Gipson as Holt Faye/King; and Jeffrey Polk as Lil’ Daddy.  The conductor is CJO Artistic Director Jeffrey Lindberg; stage direction and chorography is by Ken Roht. The design team includes Danila Korogodsky (sets); Brandon Baruch (lights) and Dabney Ross Jones (costumes).

About Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington called his music "American Music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category.” He remains one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music, giving American music its own sound for the first time. In his fifty year career, he played over 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East as well as Asia.

Ellington is best remembered for the more than 3,000 songs that he composed during his lifetime. His best known titles include "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing", "Sophisticated Lady," "Mood Indigo," “Solitude," "In a Mellotone" and "Satin Doll." When asked what inspired him to write, Ellington replied, "My men and my race are the inspiration of my work. I try to catch the character and mood and feeling of my people."

Duke Ellington's popular compositions set the bar for generations of brilliant jazz, pop, theatre and soundtrack composers to come. While these compositions guarantee his greatness, what makes Ellington an iconoclastic genius, and an unparalleled visionary, what has granted him immortality, are his extended suites. From 1943's “Black, Brown and Beige” to 1972's “Uwis Suite,” Ellington used the suite format to give his jazz songs a far more empowering meaning, resonance and purpose: to exalt, mythologize and re-contextualize the African-American experience on a grand scale.

Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. He was later awarded several other prizes, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973, the highest civilian honors in each country. He died of lung cancer and pneumonia on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday, and is buried in the Bronx, in New York City. At his funeral, attended by over 12,000 people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion, "It's a very sad day...A genius has passed." (Excerpted from

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

“Queenie Pie” will be performed at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. and March 5 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are priced from $35 - $125 and can be purchased by calling 312.704.8414 or via  Tickets also can be purchased at the Harris Theater box office.  The running time is 90 minutes, including one intermission.

About Chicago Opera Theater

Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is an innovative, nationally recognized opera company that engages a curious audience through adventurous opera experiences of new and rarely performed works. COT, established in 1974 by Alan Stone, is a founding resident company of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.  New General Director Andreas Mitisek is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills, and innovative audience-building initiatives.

Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, community engagement, education programs in Chicago Public Schools, as well as its renowned Young Artist Program.

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