Winter Festival of Dance to feature NIU students performing excerpts of ‘Paquita’

By Arthur Aumann

School of Theatre and Dance students will appear in the seventh annual Winter Festival of Dance in Schaumburg.

The Winter Festival features several dance schools and companies, including Giordano Dance Chicago and Visceral Dance Center. Styles of dance that will be featured range from ballet and modern to contemporary, said dance coordinator Judith Chitwood.

“There’s a nice camaraderie of age groups, as well, so some of the younger kids can look up to the older ones, the older ones can look up to the college-level ones,” Chitwood said. “It’s a great way for them to perform and get more experience and for us to get more exposure.”

The festival raises awareness of NIU’s dance program and helps with recruiting, Chitwood said.

Junior dancing major Danielle Bitout performed “Silly Love Songs,” which was choreographed by professor Paula Frasz, in last year’s festival. Bitout’s performance was a modern jazz piece set to Tony Bennett music.

“… Either performing or just being there to watch the show is a good opportunity,” Bitout said. “It was a cool experience not only seeing people you know but getting to meet new people, too.”

Dance professor Rich Grund is choreographing this year’s piece, which will be select variations from Ludwig Minkus’ and Joseph Mazilier’s “Paquita.” The ballet tells the story of a Romani woman, Paquita, who finds she is actually of noble birth and able to marry her love, a French officer, Lucien.

Dance students Zoe Zuleger and Stephen Blood will dance as Paquita and Lucien, respectively. They will be perform excerpts from the wedding dance, Grund saod.

“In terms of what ‘Paquita’ is, it’s really one of the best examples of what we of classicism in classical ballet,” Grund said. “I chose the piece so that our students can use the classical work to elevate their training and get deeper into it and become stronger dancers.”