Last weekend, I was lucky enough to nab tickets to the 50th anniversary celebration of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the world-renowned Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. For many years, I’ve dreamed of seeing this powerful performance in person – for those who are unfamiliar, Alvin Ailey is one of the world’s premier modern dance companies, celebrating the African American cultural experience through movement. The dancers are incredibly strong, sinewy, lithe and agile, moving in seemingly impossible synchronicity.
One of the reasons I was so excited to see this performance is because in the photos I had seen, the dancers seemed to represent such a diversity of body types. Indeed, while everyone was the picture of strength, some women moved with bodies not traditionally seen in dance (especially ballet). One of the principal dancers was shorter and wider through the chest, with a thicker waist and nearly bald head. Not your typical Nutcracker star, but just as awe-inspiring, if not more.
The packed audience was filled with families, and seeing so many young girls in the balconies was almost as inspiring as what was taking place on stage. What a gift to give your daughter, to expose her to such a culturally rich and pro-feminist phenomenon! I distinctly remember going to The Nutcracker when I was a little girl - it was magical. The women on stage seemed like goddesses (granted, I thought the same thing of Vanna White when we went to a taping of Wheel of Fortune, but still) and I aspired to be like them. I’m sure the young ladies I saw were enthralled by the dancers and went home dreaming of one day leaping and pirouetting across the stage, no matter what they looked like.
And have a fabulous weekend!