As a six year avid patron of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, initially I was a bit disappointed in this year’s tour stop. In years past, the annual tour stop in Chicago generally generates a buzz of excitement that ushers in the Spring social season with a sense of cultural finesse. This year at first appeared to lack that excitement and I was further bewildered to realize many of the new faces within my community were unaware of who Alvin Ailey were! As I entered the famed 125 year old Auditorium Theatre and began to watch AA new and highly acclaimed ODETTA, I was reminded that although we are experiencing a shift in generations, culture is everlasting and transcends demographic boundaries. Unfortunately in 2015, some of “the kids” just wants to be hood and do hood things. This fact is evident in the men they fawn over and choose to date. Although this mentality confounds my expectations, it’s their reality. But this has no bearing on those of us who challenge ourselves to acquire culture, knowledge and true enlightenment. We hold the endowment of being the modern day renaissance men. And that’s who society and real opportunity is aimed for. Poverty will never be the only option for a truly cultured and enterprising man. This ideology gave me that spark I was looking for, made me smile and enjoy the next two pieces performed that evening. Episodes, was by far my favorite this year and it’s always good to see hometown alumni Maurice Gardner and Vernard Gilmore perform.
The next day I received a few inboxes from young inquiring minds about more info on the Company. I am always an advocate for passing on knowledge so I will oblige. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre was founded in 1958 in New York City and led by Alvin Ailey and a group of African-American modern dancers. To date, they have performed for an estimated 25 million people at theatres in 48 states and 71 countries. Kings, Queens, Heads of State, Business leaders, Philanthropist and the sophisticated beckon them. In 2008, a U.S Congressional resolution designated the Company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. Revelations is perhaps the most well- known and highly acclaimed in the Company repertoire. It’s a transcending experience for anyone new to the performance. The beauty of Ailey coming to your city is that as cultural ambassadors, their performances reaches across the diversified demographics and brings out the grown, sophisticated and sexy of each community. Its one night that you are well entertained, in very good company and leave knowing you had a cultural experience. It’s fab! Normally parties and intimate dinners are hosted all weekend long with the performers in attendance and they regale you with their intrigue yet normalcy. In the end, I enjoyed myself and look forward to next year’s tour! After seven years I will finally be able to call myself an Ailey Ambassador.
Saturday evening, I stopped by the Midwest Awards Ball after St. Patrick’s day festivities. Allow me to go on record as saying, in recent years, I have not had the best words to say about modern ballroom. Nor have I attempted to be a supporter or participant. I think this anger came from me seeing what the beauty of ballroom used to be compared to present day. As with my Alvin Ailey realization, I realize generations are transitioning and some of “the kids” just wanna be hood and do hood things. I must take time to recognize both Ayanna Balenciaga and Tyanna Ebony on not only keeping the scene in the city alive, but also on a job well done! Neither of these ladies have to do it. They are one of the last of our peers from the Golden Age that still identify with ballroom. I believe they do it honestly out of the love and respect for the scene at large. The Awards Ball weekend is always fun and nostalgic for me, because I get to meet many of my Facebook friends and reconnect with friends from all over the country that I haven’t seen in years. It’s also a cool time because everyone in the city seems to have “Chicago Spirit.” Congrats ladies on a job well done and cheers Chicago on an amazing weekend…Deo