Current artistic director Judith Jamison wrote in the New York Times last December that her new piece Here…Now, about the accomplishments of Florence Griffith Joyner, evolved from “an idea of dancers and athletes as both similar and different beings.” She came up with four areas of overlap–speed, strength, style, and heaven (meaning reaching one’s goals, among other things)–and then Wynton Marsalis, who composed the score, added a fifth: pain. “So often the public sees the beauty and power of artists and athletes,” Jamison remarked, “but not the discomfort and anguish they endure in becoming the best.” Created for the 2002 Olympics, the piece will be one of three Chicago premieres performed during the Ailey company’s engagement here. The other two are Ronald K. Brown’s African-tinged Serving Nia (“nia” is Swahili for “purpose,” though the piece is also dedicated to a 17-year-old dancer who died) and a revival of Louis Falco’s 1976 Caravan, which features music by Duke Ellington. (Ads for the event mistakenly identify Donald Byrd’s 1991 Dance at the Gym–inspired by Jerome Robbins’s choreography for West Side Story–as a Chicago premiere: this obvious, unpleasantly adolescent piece was performed here in 1994, when it left me distinctly underwhelmed.) Other works from the repertory fill out three different programs. Here…Now, Dance at the Gym, and Ailey’s classic Revelations will be performed Wednesday, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon. Serving Nia, Caravan, Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream (set to tabla music), and Ailey’s Love Songs will be performed Thursday and Friday. And Caravan, Following the Suble Current Upstream, and Revelations will be performed Saturday evening. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, 312-902-1500, 312-922-2110, ext. 4, for groups of 20 or more. Opens Wednesday, April 3, 7:30 PM. Through April 7: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $18-$52.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Kolnick.