This Saturday, January 9, Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre will premiere Sono’s Journey, an original ballet performance created by Thodos Dance Chicago as a tribute to the life of ballerina Sono Osato.

Sono’s story began in Chicago as the daughter of a Canadian mother and Japanese father who were caregivers of the Japanese Tea Garden and Phoenix Pavilion in Jackson Park. Not only did she grow up to become a ballet prodigy, Sono was also an iconoclast as one of the first prominent figures of Asian heritage to take the American mainstage. She flourished as a professional ballerina, and eventually danced her way onto the Broadway stage and into notable movie and TV roles.

Sono’s Journey will bring her career full circle: the dance story will take place on the same stage where she successfully auditioned for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo 82 years ago, when she was only 14. Now at 96 years old, Sono herself will attend the premiere.

This performance is sponsored in part by Garden of the Phoenix Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to maintaining the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park as an extraordinary public space to celebrate Japanese culture. Learn more in this video we created in partnership with Garden of the Phoenix Foundation and Thodos Dance Chicago.