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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Spring Dance Concert leaps into action

Sean Reed
Members of NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance pose across a stage. The Spring Dance Concert is the last show of the SOTD’s 2023-2024 production season. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

As audience members flipped through their playbills, soft orchestral music played while a crimson curtain shielded the dancers awaiting behind it.

Thursday was the first night of the School of Theatre and Dance’s Spring Dance Concert, the last production of the 2023-2024 season.

This concert, titled “The Continuum of Change,” is a multi-suite work that focuses on different life experiences and the emotions and change they can produce.

“It’s a really good show. It’s very inspiring, and I really can’t wait for people to see it,” junior dance major Darius Murray said.

As the show’s start time approached, chatter in the audience increased as around 80 attendees filed in to see the show. There were four dance numbers in total, with three minute pauses between each performance. To begin the show, 16 dancers took the stage for “Cog/nition.”

As the curtain rose, smoke billowed out from the dark stage. Dressed head to toe in futuristic black and gray bodysuits, the dancers took formation, moving across the stage like a spaceship.

The song was electronic and suspenseful, building an eerie intensity throughout the audience. As the dance progressed, red lights shone onto the smoke and dancers, helping to further build this atmosphere.

The second number, “377 Repertoire Syllabus,” was much different in tone. The dancers donned spring colors and florals. Contrary to the more calculated movements of the last performance, the dancers leaped and glided across the stage. This piece had five sections, each with a different song.

Section 1 featured music from “The Wizard of Oz” and three dancers in floral, flowy skirts. They moved in front of a sunset colored background; the only thing interrupting the music was the sound of their pointe shoes hitting the floor.

Section 2 featured a song from the “Coppélia” ballet and two dancers. One of the dancers, junior BFA dance major Athei Chagai, spun and moved as though she were a ballerina in a childhood jewelry box, enchanting the audience with the prowess of typical ballet.

The third section had a mood shift, becoming faster and more sporadic with a single dancer on stage. Section 4 also featured a solo dancer, junior B.F.A. dance major Millicent Collins. Her movements, which seemed open to a deeper interpretation, were much bigger as she circled her hips and swung her arms about.

“377 Repertoire Syllabus” concluded with an excerpt from “Swan Lake.” Five dancers had on white shirts and placed their hands in the pockets of their pastel pants. Because this hand placement limited arm mobility, the dancer’s movements were focused mainly on their legs, bounding across the stage and bobbing their heads.

The third dance number, “GLiTCH 2.0: Cozy Ghost,” began again with smoke billowing out of the black stage. The dancers wore loose black pants and dark sleeveless suit coats. 

Behind the dancers was a reflective wall, mirroring their movements. Throughout the piece, the dancers moved toward the wall, set it down to reveal it was a table and then split it off into three separate tables. The interaction with this reflective table was the crux of the number. Dancers laid both on and under the tables and moved across them throughout the performance.

While the song in this number began with a twangy feel, it shifted to be more jazzy, feeling straight out of film noir or a James Bond movie.

The final piece of the night, “The Continuum of Change,” evoked the most emotional response in the show. With three chandeliers warmly lit above the stage, the performance began with dancers garbed in earth tones in a tight formation moving and holding onto one another while a voice spoke out “this bitter earth, what a fruit it bears.” This section of the piece projected a sad but hopeful air onto the audience.

As dancers prepared for the second section of the piece, a lone chandelier lit up the center stage while the audience waited in the darkness with anticipation. When the music started up again, sophomore illustration major and dance minor Ava Martin rushed into view while other dancers sat to the side watching. The tone set by Martin’s movement was that of intensity and grief.

The last act of the performance, and show as a whole, switched to be much more lively. The dancers rejoined Martin on stage to send the audience off with a more energetic energy.

“I really hope that people take a sense of confidence and strength because that was what this piece was about,” Murray said. “You see, with the solo, it was something that built you down, but toward the end you were able to gain control again and power over who you were as a person. And at the end that’s when you were finally able to accept yourself and be who you really wanna be.”

The Spring Dance Concert has shows throughout this weekend. There will be performances Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are required and available online. 

Tickets are free for NIU students, $20 for the general public, $18 for seniors and $12 for non-NIU students.

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