What are the benefits of rooting my ally? Will it increase performance? What else?
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It will allow you to remove preinstalled apps verizon put on there (if you want) using titanium backup, it will allow you to use a wifi tethering app (barnacle wifi tether works on the ally), you can use titanium backup to backup all of your apps, there are apps like autokiller or minfree which alter androids mamory management to give you more free RAM, which might increase your performance a bit.
There IS a custom rom out there but my gf hasn't let me do that to her phone...
Its literally a customized version of the android operating system on your phone. It will allow you to do so much more. There aren't many custom roms for the ally, but there are at least one or two. Flashing one incorrectly can "brick" your phone, though, so if you decide to do that, tread carefully.