It’s unfortunate that Indianapolis City Ballet is not presenting its annual “Evening With The Stars” this year. The popular ICB fundraising event which, for eight years, showcased many of the world’s most famous ballet dancers, from some of the most prestigious companies on the planet, has been suspended. It is not known when or if EWTS will resume. Ballet aficionados who looked forward to this rare opportunity to see the world’s top ballet artists each year at the gala were left mourning its loss. However, there yet another opportunity for ballet enthusiasts, including yours truly, to experience the best in the art form and it’s only three hours away in Chicago.
The Auditorium Theatre, The Theatre for the People, commemorates the 50th anniversary of its grand re-opening with “A Golden Celebration of Dance.” Taking place Sunday, November 12, at 7:30 p.m., the one-night-only mixed repertory program features dancers from the world’s premier dance companies: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, MOMIX, New York City Ballet, Parsons Dance, San Francisco Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Vienna State Ballet, and The Washington Ballet. In addition, the evening will feature special performances by finalists from the Youth America Grand Prix.
Word of the event came to me by way of Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, former president and CEO of Carmel’s Center for The Performing Arts. She resigned that post to step into the role of CEO of The Auditorium Theatre in October of 2016. A former dancer herself, Moskalenko’s husband’s Alexie is associate artistic director of Youth America Gran Prix, so there is no bigger supporter of dance. Inviting me to review the event, Castroverde also requested that I spread the word to the many friends and acquaintances she made while living in Central Indiana and to local dance lovers in general.
Here’s some history on the venue Castroverde oversees. In 1941, the Auditorium Theatre closed its doors to the public in the wake of the Great Depression. Aside from when it was used as a servicemen’s center during World War II, the theatre sat unused and in disrepair, until a 7-year-long fundraising campaign – led by Beatrice Spachner and the Auditorium Theatre Council – covered the costs of theatre renovation, culminating with a grand re-opening on October 31, 1967. That historic evening, the Auditorium Theatre hosted New York City Ballet for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” starring principal dancers Edward Villella and Suzanne Farrell, who will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 50th anniversary celebration.
While the Auditorium Theatre has presented dance since its opening in 1889 (including performances by Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan), the re-opening in 1967 began an unprecedented new dance chapter that continues to this day. The theatre has since hosted companies including the Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as many of the companies represented at A Golden Celebration of Dance.
“The Auditorium Theatre’s grand re-opening 50 years ago helped usher in one of the most exciting eras of dance in Chicago,” says Moskalenko “I am thrilled to commemorate this momentous occasion with such a special evening that will bring so much talent from around the world to our historic stage. This is an amazing opportunity for our patrons to experience an incredible array of top-tier performances over the course of one unforgettable night.”
Dancers for the Golden Celebration performance include American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Daniil Simkin and Maria Kochetkova, performing the grand pas de deux from Marius Petipa’s “Don Quixote,” with Simkin also performing the solo piece “Les Bourgeois” by Ben Van Cauwenbergh; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Solomon Dumas performing Robert Battle’s “Takademe”; The Joffrey Ballet’s Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili performing Yuri Possokhov’s “Bells”; New York City Ballet principal dancers Daniel Ulbricht and Megan Fairchild performing George Balanchine’s “Tarantella”; The Washington Ballet’s Brooklyn Mack performing a pas de deux from Marius Petipa’s “Diana and Acteon” with San Francisco Ballet’s Koto Ishihara; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performing Crystal Pite’s “Solo Echo”; Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook from The Suzanne Farrell Ballet performing George Balanchine’s “Meditation”; Nicole Loizides and Todd Burnsed of the dance-illusionist company MOMIX performing the piece “Skiva”; Elena d’Amario from Parsons Dance performing David Parsons’ work “Caught” (set to music by Robert Fripp); and Liudmila Konovalova of the Vienna State Ballet performing “The Swan” in the style of Anna Pavlova.
For tickets and information about “A Golden Celebration of Dance” call the ticket office at (312) 341-2300 or visit auditoriumtheatre.org. Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University is located at 50 E Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60605