In between soccer practice and making dinner and helping with homework, it is easy to forget what an amazing gift it is to raise our children in a world-class city like Chicago. It can take a special event to remind us as parents that we are fortunate to be able to expose our children to opportunities that are not so easily found elsewhere, and to realize the many treasures our city has to offer.
I experienced such an event and a night full of treasures when my daughter and I saw the American Ballet Theater perform “An All-American Celebration” at the Auditorium Theater.
The ABT is a national treasure, having been declared the America’s national ballet company by an act of Congress in 2006, and the dancers never cease to amaze. The performances were jawdroppingly good, to the point that, when the first intermission came, my daughter and I didn’t move. The Bach Partita literally took our breaths away. The dancers were amazing.
One dancer in particular had my daughter’s attention, and that of a majority of the audience. Misty Copeland is only the second African-American soloist ever at ABT, and has blazed a trail of breaking down barriers and defying stereotypes. She has published several books, judges occasionally on “So You Think You Can Dance,” serves on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, and stars in an Under Armour commercial. That all faded far into the background, however, as she took the stage in Chicago. She was an amazing dancer who commanded your attention.
I found it hard to take my eyes off of Copeland, but I did, because she is my daughter’s hero. Not often do you get to see the look of awe on your child’s face as she watches her idol perform live for the very first time. Those moments of magic seem more fleeting as children age, but they become that much more precious. The awe on her face would have been enough for me to have had a fabulous night, but there was so much more than that.
I loved that ABT relied on a host of other treasures to construct an “All-American Celebration.” Twyla Tharp choreographed two of the four pieces, both of the ones that featured Misty Copeland. One of those was a Sinatra Suite that my tween said was her favorite of the night.
The Auditorium Theater itself is a treasure. Celebrating its 125
Anniversary Season, the historic building has never looked better. Walking to our seats felt more like walking into a beautiful music box, the kind with a ballerina who unfolds and dances when you open it.
I loved that my daughter could truly appreciate the great names that have graced the Auditorium Theater’s stage, from Theodore Roosevelt to Anna Pavalova to James Brown, that were mentioned in a short film shown before the performance. It tells the history of the theater, which is also the history of Chicago. It didn’t always host great performances, however. It was repurposed as a USO servicemen’s center during World War II and featured a bowling alley. I was grateful they had footage of it, because it is hard to image when sitting in the beautiful theater.
The pins have been put away and the theater is home once again to amazing beautiful performances, and I’m so grateful that I was able to share a very special one with my daughter. It’s a memory I will treasure.