NIU’s spring dance concert exhibits the mundane experience


Sarah Rose

People wait in the O’Connell Theater in NIU’s Stevens building for The Spring Dance Concert. The concert concluded NIU’s School of Theater and Dance’s 2022-23 production lineup. (Sarah Rose | Northern Star)

By Sarah Rose, Senior Lifestyle Writer

DeKALB – Soft blue lights glimmered on the O’Connell theater stage as five dancers took their places, bodies bent over in poses they’re all too familiar with. As the music started out as a fantasia melody, The Rite of Spring begun.

April 27 through the 30, the NIU School of Theatre and Dance performed their first dance concert of 2023, making it an hour-long show with four unique acts. There were a total of 18 dancers who performed choreography from NIU choreographers Marc Macaranas, Michel Rodriguez-Cintra and Sarita Smith Childs. The concert was a collaboration between NIU dancers and the NIU Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The first act was titled “The Rite of Spring” and consisted of three individual dance sequences. Dancing to music by Igor Stravinsky, the dancers performed a sacrificial dance, prancing around the stage like fairies that rule the forest. The 11 dancers performed in baggy overalls which were in colors of blue, green, beige and brown. The colors symbolized the Earth which aligned with how the dancers were moving: like they were praising the ground they walked on.

The last of the three sequences stood out the most in “The Rite of Spring.” The dance was called “Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One)” and was performed by Darius Murray, a dance major, Gwen Jones, a senior B.F.A. dance major, and Anna Lindstrom, a junior B.F.A. dance major. The three students danced like animals on the hunt for someone to kill. Like the other two, this sequence acted as a ritual dance, and the three performers danced hungrily to the ominous music that often took sharp turns. 

The two in-between acts were “Creature Cooperation” and “GLiTCH,” two dances that are complete opposites from the first and last act. In “Creature Cooperation,” six dancers performed in black and white formal attire, a stark difference from the previous dance. The outfits hinted to the audience that the scene was a workplace and the dancers numbly moved around the stage as if they were puppets on strings. This dance pulled quite a few laughs from the audience as dancers at times held forced smiles on their faces while moving around each other. 

“GLiTCH” acted as a futuristic style dance that seemed to mimic what would happen in a world where a disease could make people twitch violently. The dance was performed in oversized suits and slacks which were paired with black socks, making it impressive how the dancers didn’t slip on stage with no shoes on. The sequence reminded me of a cross between the Matrix and Tron, solely because the music was a blend of pop beats and EDM. 

The final act was the epitome of ending on a strong note. In this case, ending on a strong dance. The last dance was titled “Telling Our Stories” and contained 13 dancers who all worked in fluidity to tell the story of community resilience. The somber music carried through the dancers as they danced around tenderly, often leaning on one another and speaking the music through their movements. Because this dance contained the most dancers of the entire show, it was more challenging and memorable.

“I loved the last dance. It ended on an upward note, very encouraging, absolutely stunning,” said Makenzie Weatherford, an NIU 2022 alum in acting.

One of the dancers, Antonio Houston, a sophomore B.F.A. dance major, stood out in the two dances he performed in. Houston, like many others, performed as if he’d been a naturally trained dancer all of his life. 

“I loved doing the last dance. “Telling Our Stories” would be my favorite one to perform, but my favorite one of the show is “GLiTCH” by Marc,” Houston said. “I wanted to make sure that I’m getting the vision that the choreographer wanted for the dance. I just wanted to make sure I embodied that.” 

The Spring Dance Concert was a production that has been in the works for months.

“We started (practice) about three to four weeks into the start of the semester, and a lot of our dances didn’t end up being finished until like three, four weeks ago. It was a lot of just practicing every week, and teaching it and after practice practices,” Houston said. 

The Spring Dance Concert concludes NIU’s 2022-23 theater and dance production lineup. For more information on NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance, visit its website.