Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Dancer Vernard Gilmore 'Reflects' on Alvin Ailey, dance, his own feelings
by Andrew Davis
2022-02-21

This article shared 1057 times since Mon Feb 21, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Twenty-five years is a long time to be involved in any discipline.

Now imagine having to be in prime physical shape all that time—on the level of an elite athlete.

Vernard Gilmore, who grew up in Chicago, has been with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for a quarter-century. He began his training at Curie Performing and Creative Arts High School before studying at the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater and then moving to New York City. Gilmore is currently featured in Alvin Ailey's solo "Reflections in D" and takes center stage in other classics such as Revelations and Blues Suite.

Gilmore, who's openly gay, recently talked with Windy City Times about Alvin Ailey, the evolution of dance, the Ailey documentary and his own feelings during the past two years that have challenged everyone.

Windy City Times: You're from Chicago. Given the pandemic, how often do you make it back here?

Vernard Gilmore: The pandemic has taken a lot out of everyone. My [paternal] grandmother is still in Chicago and she's dealing with some health issues, so I've been back and forth for the past [few] months. Most of the time, I try to see my grandmother and spend time with her. Besides the time with the company, I'll try to get back to Chicago two or three more times this year.

WCT: Congratulations on your time with the company.

VG: It's been 25 years with the first company, but I've also been a student at the school [and] I was with the junior company for two years—it's been, like, 30 years with the actual foundation.

WCT: Obviously, the dance scene has changed a lot over the past 25 years. What's the biggest change you've observed at the company during that time—and what's been the biggest change you've seen in dance?

VG: Oh—that's a very interesting question to start with. [Laughs]

Part of the genius of Alvin Ailey was that he brought the culture into the theater. With that seed planted in me, I understood that there were times when it would change. There was something important that Judy [legendary Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison] said: "Hold on to the past, live in the present and reach fearlessly into the future." That, to me, has been a pillar in my life. I understand that we have to grow and change, but you have to remember that you [need] a foundation—that that foundation involves a tenacity toward commitment in your life. You need to work toward perfection so you can achieve excellence.

How we communicate changes and how we want to communicate positively changes. I've watched that happen throughout the dance world. Sometimes it worries me because you can observe someone not working that hard—but maybe that person doesn't know how to work that hard; they may not have that "old-school" mentality. But you try to be an example—not just for the students at the Ailey company; I'm just trying to set an example.

You know, I was just talking to one of the very young male dancers in our company—a very bright man. I said, "I understand you have your own thing but sometimes you have to trust that the people who came before you [actually] know something." It was something people said to me when I was younger. You have to have a great foundation.

Young people today have everything at their fingertips. I remember those eight-tracks and cassettes… [Laughs] The things that are important to the young generation now are different. I feel like some of the stuff I want to keep to myself, but they want to put everything out there. Things are different—but it doesn't mean our values are not transcending. I tell younger people to have fun and work hard; don't do just the bare minimum; you need to focus on something.

Being from Chicago, I love sports. But there was a coach from Phoenix [Monty Williams] who said something that was a revelation to me. He said, "I'm not trying to call you out—I'm trying to call you up." THAT'S what a person needs to hear. I want to pull people up because I see the potential.

WCT: For our readers, can you describe what "Reflections in D" is?

VG: I got to watch the Ailey documentary twice to gain some perspective. As I think about how I've grown [while] performing "Reflections in D" the past couple years, he just really makes room for you to grow in it—and that I find absolutely incredible. Judy has a great ear for music, so there's this one rehearsal I watch of her giving to a young man; I watch it all the time because I learn something every time from the way she moves to the music, and it just makes it magical.

You know that Mr. Ailey and Mr. [Duke] Ellington had a great relationship. Could you imagine growing up in that time? So, this solo—"Reflections in D"—is an ode to Mr. Ellington's music. It's like he wanted to bring the music alive through the language of dance. It's quiet and not very long; it's like this perfect little boutique of art.

So many people have gotten to dance to it and each person has a different interpretation. That's a lovely thing about it. And I've been able to teach it, also! I'm overjoyed about that—I'm teaching an Ailey solo to the Ailey men. It's amazing to share my experiences with them.

WCT: What's your take on the Ailey documentary?

VG: I thought it was the first time in my 20-plus years with the company that I had seen a very honest portrayal of Ailey. His love life, his life outside of dance—it was very rarely talked about. There had a very conservative way of talking about him and his passing. This documentary talks about him getting sick, falling in love, being lonely and his influence in dance—but no one had really been invited to his house. Not judging him, but it seemed like he was trying to survive, too. And listening to his voice was … resonating. He seemed to make everyone feel comfortable. I felt like I got to see that side of him—and I learned that he wanted truth in his movement.

To see him come through some very hard times and still show his excellence is something you can always take with you.

WCT: I've asked a variety of people this next question, and have gotten a variety of answers. Over the past couple years, we've all had time to self-reflect. We're dealing with the pandemic but there's also the racial awakening that some people have had. What have you learned about yourself during this time?

VG: That I'm angry and hurt most of the time. I'm mistrustful with everything and everyone. It's a hard time. You know you have to have faith and hope, though. I try to use those feelings through the art of dance; it settles your mind and heart, and gets you going through the day. That's where I am.

WCT: What are you angry about?

VG: I'm angry about the lack of logic in the things that are happening around us, and the willingness of people to accept that. Maybe it's because I'm a Libra and I'm always thinking about balance.

Sometimes it seems that we're losing it, but I'm holding on to my faith. The pandemic has put stress on everyone so I tend to not want to tell the entire story, but it's the healthcare system, the people who are in charge, the misinformation. You have to be aware; I'm from the South Side so I walk in the middle of the street at night instead of on the sidewalk so I can see everything. You're constantly checking things and not trusting things. It's a hard way to live.

But seeing people in the theater—there's a sense of community that we have to have. That's a great thing that has come out of this crisis.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr., on March 2-6. See AuditoriumTheatre.org and AlvinAiley.org . Note: COVID protocols will be followed.


This article shared 1057 times since Mon Feb 21, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Baton Show Lounge unveils new male burlesque 2022-11-23
- On the evening of Nov. 17, Baton Show Lounge, 4713 N. Broadway, presented Burlesque Royale, a new male review featuring local and national talent. Produced by noted photographer Ramsey Prince, the sold-out show featured vocalists Danika ...


Gay News

DANCE Deeply Rooted performing Nov. 5 at Auditorium Theatre 2022-10-11
- The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr., will present Deeply Rooted Dance Theater—a Chicago-based African-American contemporary dance company—in a one-night-only performance Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. as ...


Gay News

AT&T celebrates National Coming Out Day (early) with performances, panel 2022-10-10
- AT&T—in partnership with Center on Halsted and with the participation of do312.com—held "Turn Up the Love," a pre-celebration for National Coming Out Day that took place Oct. 8 at its flagship store at 600 N. Michigan ...


Gay News

DANCE Joffrey celebrates return of 'The Nutcracker' on Dec. 3-27 2022-10-06
- This holiday season, The Joffrey Ballet celebrates the return of Tony-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's production of The Nutcracker. Set in Chicago's World Fair in 1893, The Nutcracker will be presented at the Lyric Opera House, 20 ...


Gay News

DANCE Cerqua Rivera kickoff/benefit on Oct. 22 2022-09-30
- Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre (CRDT) will hold its season kickoff/benefit on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., at 7:30 p.m. CRDT's Dance Ensemble and Jazz ...


Gay News

Howard Brown Health partners with Chicago Dancers United 2022-09-27
-- From a press release - Howard Brown Health and Chicago Dancers United (CDU) have announced a partnership to improve healthcare outcomes for local dance community members. Through the partnership, Howard Brown will be the go-to ...


Gay News

Joffrey Ballet welcomes nine new dancers 2022-09-27
- The Joffrey Ballet's Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director and President/CEO Greg Cameron announced the addition of nine dancers to the Joffrey roster for the 2022-23 season. They are Coco Alvarez-Mena (Miami, Florida), ...


Gay News

TV 'Dancing with the Stars' has first drag contestant 2022-09-08
- The show Dancing with the Stars is recording a couple of firsts in its 31st season—including its first-ever drag queen competitor. Actor and Performer D.J. "Shangela" Pierce—the first contestant to compete on three separate seasons of ...


Gay News

DANCE Rogers Park group Synapse Arts to hold Sept. 17 fundraiser 2022-09-06
- On Saturday, Sept. 17, there will be another “Crosswalk Dance” from the Rogers Park company Synapse Arts as well as another Jarvis Square Artisan Market and the celebration of National Dance Day. ...


Gay News

Chicago Dancers United raises $300K at 'Dance for Life' 2022-09-06
- Chicago Dancers United (CDU), which supports the health and wellness of Chicago's professional dance community, welcomed more than 1,700 people to the 31st annual Dance for Life on Aug. 13 at the Auditorium Theatre, followed by ...


Gay News

DANCE Ensemble Espanol at Auditorium Theatre on Oct. 1 2022-09-05
- The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr., will kick off the 2022-23 season of its Chicago Dance series with Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater, for one performance only, on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 ...


Gay News

POLITICS Queer businesswoman running for alderperson in 48th Ward 2022-08-19
- Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth—a queer native Chicagoan and 23-year resident of Andersonville who also describes herself as a "mother of three, tango dancer, small business owner and community organizer"—announced her candidacy for ...


Gay News

Joffrey Academy offers historic contemporary dance track 2022-08-17
- Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, announced the launch of the Joffrey Academy Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program—the first full-time contemporary ballet training program ...


Gay News

Dance for Life 2022 taking place Aug. 13 at the Auditorium Theatre 2022-08-09
-- From a press release - Chicago Dancers United (CDU), which supports the health and wellness of Chicago's professional dance community, presents seven companies and a world premiere finale for its 31st annual fundraiser, Dance for Life 2022. The event takes place ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-08-08
- "I wasn't trying to have his career because he sings, he dances. I'm barely a single threat. I'm just an actor."—Tuc Watkins, explaining how he emulated the career trajectory of Kevin Kline— to the best of ...


 




Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.