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A 'Dancer's Dancer' Returns To Chicago
Vernard Gilmore comes back to his hometown with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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   SINCE he joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1997, Vernard Gilmore has traveled to many parts of the world to perform and conduct workshops that introduce youngsters to the world of dance. After growing up in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, he is making a significant, cultural contribution around the globe. “I have traveled all over Europe and Asia, and I’ve been to Russia,” he says. “My life has been enriched by all of these experiences.”
    Gilmore will showcase his skills when he returns to Chicago with the award-winning Alvin Ailey company to perform March 6 through March 15 at the Auditorium Theatre. The graduate of Curie Performing and Creative Arts High School recently represented the Ailey group in a solo performance and awed the crowd with an elegant combination of balance, strength and grace during the gala to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Auditorium Theatre.
    As part of his preparation to become a world-class dancer, Gilmore participated in several competitions and received first place in the all-city NAACP ACT-SO Competition in Dance in 1993. He later studied as a scholarship student at The Ailey School and was a member of Ailey II, a showcase for rising young dancers and choreographers. In 2010, he performed at the White House tribute to Judith Jamison, the internationally known dancer and choreographer who succeeded Alvin Ailey as artistic director. 
    The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater––with its mission to promote African American culture and modern American dance––was formed in 1958, and has performed for more than 23 million people in 71 countries to become one of the United States’ most celebrated exports. In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world.” The group continues to be celebrated for its numerous enduring works, including Cry and Revelations, choreographed by Ailey himself and explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.
    For 57 years, the company, now under the direction of Robert Battle, has remained at the top because of its demand for perfection. Even with Gilmore’s credentials as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, the group requires continuing excellence to afford company members any degree of security. “Being in the company, you’re constantly working to stay in the company,” Gilmore says. “You’re only hired for a year contract. There’s not a time when you ever actually feel like you’ve arrived. You’re constantly working to achieve the perfection.”
    If perfection is the goal, then––since 1997––Gilmore has shown the world a sterling example of perfection personified.
Vernard Gilmore and Tina Monica Williams perform Alvin Ailey's Hidden Rites. (Photograph by Nan Melville)
Gilmore performs Ailey's lengendary Revelations, which will be a part of the program when the company performs at the Auditorium Theatre. (Photograph by Francette Levieux)
                       PROGRAMS TO BE PERFORMED AT THE AUDITORIUM THEATRE
Program A
ODETTA
Episodes
Revelations
Dates: 3/6, 3/8, 3/13, 3/14 (matinee)
Program B
Polish Pieces
Awassa Astrige/Ostrich
Bad Blood
Revelations
Dates: 3/7 (matinee and evening), 3/15
Program C
Grace
Uprising
After the Rain
Revelations
Dates: 3/12, 3/14 (evening)
For tickets, go to www.ticketmaster.com; call 800/982-2787 or buy in person at the box office, 50 E. Congress Parkway.