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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

2023 Fall Dance Concert expresses authentic stories

Sasha Norman
A group of dancers sit together with their hands on their shoulders. NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance will perform its 2023 Fall Dance Concert from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. (Sasha Norman | Northern Star)

The gallery for the 2023 Fall Dance Concert can be found linked here on the Northern Star website.  

DeKALB – As the thick, red curtains of the O’Connell Theatre rose, audience members were transported back to a time of flaming history and the end of a war.

The packed theater began to hoot and holler as two dancers elegantly took the stage for a duet. 

This was the beginning of NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance’s 2023 Fall Dance Concert, a show of love and belonging. 

The concert lasted roughly an hour and contained five dances, each unique in style and music. 

The first performance was a ballet duet performed by Alyssa Altadonna and Antonio Houston titled “Flames of Paris – Act III Pas de Deux.” Altadonna and Houston portrayed two lovers celebrating the end of the French Revolution. 

Altadonna’s classical ballet costume and tutu felt like it was from a time of sophistication and class. 

At times, each dancer had mini solos, showcasing their agility and graceful technique. For an opener, Altadonna and Houston really set the stage for the talent the audience was about to witness. 

The next two dances were titled “<3” and “Walls Within.” 

The second performance, “<3,” contained an ensemble of seven dancers who excelled in synchronization and emotion, but the duet is what stood out. Dancers Millicent Collins and Talia Sigismondi entered the middle of the stage midway through the dance in fluttery purple dresses. As the spotlight shined down on their downcast faces, sequences of contemporary ballet began. 

Audrey Geysbeek, a sophomore acting major attending the show, said “<3” stood out to her the most, and the duet was especially breathtaking. 

“It was beautiful, I wanted to cry,” Geysbeek said. “I don’t know what kind of love it was, but there was something so beautiful and loving, and there was a tender relationship between them (Collins and Sigismondi), and it was very clear.” 

“Walls Within” was a performance with four dancers and boxes that covered the stage and hung down from the ceiling. In the beginning, I couldn’t grasp the meaning behind the dance, but I soon started to feel a sort of tug of war the dancers were having with each other. 

For example, one dancer got on top of one of the boxes and started to have the other dancers follow suit. It looked like the other dancers didn’t want to get on the boxes but were so mesmerized by their “leader” they did anyway. 

“Both pieces were really great to be in because they’re totally different styles of dance, but Michel’s piece (“Walls Within”) was my favorite,” said Celia Carpenter, a senior BFA dance major. 

The final performance was a collaboration with the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in Chicago. The dance, titled “ROOT: mwanzo wa mwili ni roho,” is an African piece inspired by the book “African Cultural Values: An Introduction” by Kwame Gyekye.

The ensemble contained 11 dancers, the most any dance from the night had, which made it very satisfying to watch the synchronized moves. 

Dancers were clad in brown and tan outfits; and at times, there was a lot going on on stage given how many dancers there were. Usually, I would find the many sequences distracting and messy, but I found myself enjoying the chaotic pieces. Perhaps it was the jazzy, upbeat music or the glee from the dancers, but “ROOT” was the dance that had me smiling the most.

Dancers have been working on the Fall Dance Concert since the beginning of the fall semester, putting in months of training and practice for the four nights of the show.  

“We have really long days, so the most challenging part is trying to keep going after you’re really tired,” Carpenter said.  

From somber to celebratory, the dancers all gave exhilarated performances that took your breath away. 

To purchase tickets for the Dec. 1 to Dec. 3 showings, visit the School of Theatre and Dance box office.

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