Why Alvin Ailey Moved Me to Tears

I have been known to exaggerate. I often speak in superlatives and use an abundance of exclamation points. But let me assure you, every superlative I'm about to use was well earned by Alvin Ailey Dance Theater last night at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre.

It's been years since a live dance performance has brought me to tears. Last night, it happened.

The tears fell during the company's presentation of Petite Mort. With a name like Petite Mort one expects a sensual, sexually charged piece of work. It was. There were moments when, as an audience member I felt like a voyeur. Was I intruding on an intimate moment?

But it was so much more than that. Choreographed in 1991 by Jiří Kylián and set to Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 21 and 23, this work is absolutely exquisite. (For the other Breaking Pointe fans out there, this is the piece Ballet West performed with the swords and chiffon.) It's breathtaking, surprising and even at times comical. I dare say this may be the best live dance performance I have seen in my life. It really was that good.

The rest of the night was special too. The Chicago premier of Another Night was also a triumph.

It was last night's opening number. As I sat in awe of the company I began to write this gushing post in my head. Choreographer Kyle Abraham's work was inspired by and is set to Art Blakey’s interpretation of “A Night In Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie. It was colorful, alive, hot but cool. Undoubtedly, it is a piece that I will remember for years.

I've been told that Ailey dancers are the "best bodies in the business." At the risk of seeming to objectify these talented, brilliant artists, I have to agree. To see the strength, the grace, the power and the fluidity those gorgeous bodies communicate is awe inspiring. I am and was blown away. I'm so blown away in fact, I am hoping to catch another show before the company leaves on March 17th.

If you are in Chicago or if Ailey is coming through a city near you, I beg you not to miss these dynamic performers. Last night's show was the stuff of legends. If you have the chance to experience it, you must.

Have you ever been moved to tears by a live performance?
Tell me about it!