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ABT News

February 24, 2011


American Ballet Theatre to Return for Three Engagements as a Cornerstone of Chicago's Most Prestigious Dance Series

Company Returns to Auditorium Stage in March 2012 with Giselle

Xiomara Reyes in Giselle.

CHICAGO – Brett Batterson, executive director of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (ATRU), American Ballet Theatre Executive Director Rachel S. Moore and American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie today announced a new agreement that will bring North America’s leading classical dance company to the ATRU stage three times in the next six years. Building on the ATRU’s continuous history of showcasing the world’s foremost dance companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet, The Mariinsky (formerly Kirov) Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, this agreement cements the theater’s position as Chicago’s premier home for large scale ballet, and indeed as one of the most prominent stages for dance in North America.

American Ballet Theatre (ABT), which made its Auditorium debut in 1969, will return March
22-25, 2012 with five performances of its critically acclaimed production of the classic story ballet Giselle. ABT will return in the spring of 2014 and 2016 with different programming to be announced. Live orchestra will be provided by the Chicago Sinfonietta under Music Director Designate Mei-Ann Chen.

“This partnership is a significant boon to the cultural community of Chicago, and also marks a landmark moment in the history of the Auditorium Theatre,” said Batterson. “American Ballet Theatre is undoubtedly one of the finest dance companies in the world. It is with great pride that we welcome American Ballet Theatre to join the other world class companies that have and continue to grace Chicago’s landmark stage.”

“The elegance and splendor of Adler and Sullivan’s masterpiece theater are world renowned and, from the audience’s perspective, the sightlines are ideal,” said McKenzie, a former ABT Principal Dancer who was named Artistic Director in 1992. “I am thrilled for American Ballet Theatre to have such a comfortable and welcoming ‚Äòhome base’ in Chicago and look forward to having our dancers perform there in the years to come.”

“American Ballet Theatre’s multi-year agreement with the Auditorium Theatre provides an important continuity between ABT and Chicago audiences,” said Moore. “This new partnership is consistent with our role as America’s National Ballet Company and furthers our goal to serve a national audience.”

About American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach. Recognized as a living national treasure since its founding in 1940, ABT annually tours the United States, performing for more than 600,000 people, and is the only major cultural institution to do so. It has also made more than 15 international tours to 42 countries as perhaps the most representative American ballet company, and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements.

When ABT was launched in 1939, the aim was to develop a repertoire of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, wherever they might be found. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith from 1940 to 1980, the Company more than fulfilled that aim. The repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the nineteenth century, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, the finest works from the early part of this century, such as Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas and Rodeo, and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces such as Airs, Push Comes to Shove and Duets. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by all of the great choreographic geniuses of the 20th century: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.

In 1980, Mikhail Baryshnikov became Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, succeeding Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith. Under his leadership, numerous classical ballets were staged, restaged and refurbished, and the Company experienced a strengthening and refining of the classical tradition. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Mr. Baryshnikov and immediately established an agenda that was dedicated to maintaining the great traditions of the past while aggressively pursuing a vital and innovative future.

In October 1992, former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed Artistic Director. Mr. McKenzie, steadfast in his vision of ABT as “American,” is committed to maintaining the company’s vast repertoire, and to bringing the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world.

In 2006, American Ballet Theatre was recognized as America’s National Ballet Company¬Æ by an act of Congress. Over its 71-year history, the Company has appeared in a total of 126 cities in 42 countries. ABT has also appeared in all 50 states of the United States. In keeping with the Company’s long-standing commitment to bringing the finest in dance to the widest international audience, ABT has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Beijing, Havana and London. In March of this year, ABT will perform in Moscow for the first time in 50 years.

About Giselle

Giselle is one of the most popular continuously performed ballets, having had its world premiere on June 28, 1841 at the Theatre de l’Academie Royale de Musique in Paris, with choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, danced by Carlotta Grisi as Giselle and Lucien Petipa as Albrecht. Since then, the ballet, beloved for its magical story and bravura dancing, has entered the repertoire of almost all of the major ballet companies in the world.

Giselle was first presented by American Ballet Theatre (then Ballet Theatre) during the company’s inaugural season at the Center Theatre in New York City on January 12, 1940.

American Ballet Theatre’s current production was created for the film “Dancers,” produced in 1987 by Cannon Films. This production’s first public performance was given on March 20, 1987 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, with Marianna Tcherkassky as Giselle and Kevin McKenzie as Albrecht. It was staged by Mikhail Baryshnikov after Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa, with additional staging by John Taras and Elena Tchernichova. This production features scenery by Gianni Quaranta and costumes by Anna Anni. The current staging is by Kevin McKenzie, using the Quaranta and Anni designs.

Tickets to the March 22-25 performances of Giselle at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University will go on sale at a future date to be announced. 2011-12 Subscriptions, including the ABT engagement, will go on sale May 2, 2012.

American Ballet Theatre at the Auditorium Theatre

American Ballet Theatre has performed ten critically acclaimed engagements at the Auditorium Theatre. The company’s engagements were in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994 and 1995.

About the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, located at 50 E. Congress Parkway, is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural and community 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 Illinois Arts Council, CityArts, American Airlines and the Palmer House Hilton. For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theater tours, call (312) 922-2110 or visit

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