Dancing for a cause


Shannon Spicer performs “Vamp Venom Venus” before this year’s Art For Life, Saturday.  The event raised funds for research and health care for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

By Jerene-Elise Nall

Since 1996, Art For Life has used creativity as a tool to raise both funds for and awareness of HIV and AIDS. The show has been running for close to 15 years, and Art For Life continued its long history of exciting and educating audiences for a great cause Saturday. 

This year, the show featured a variety of artistic expressions, but the dancers of this year’s Art For Life were the heart of the production. Many dancers chose to choreograph routines focused on feelings of happiness, love, personal struggles and relationships.

Alanna Nielsen, director of this year’s Art For Life, said this year’s event included work by Lawrice Stori Johnson, who choreographed a memorial act for two very important people: his little brother, as well as a close family friend. “To him, it’s a reminder of both,” Nielsen said.

Nicole Argudo, junior dance performance major, also choreographed a dance for the event. Argudo uses her piece to explore the progression of a relationship through dance. “The piece is focusing on the good feelings of a relationship and including some bad [feelings], but is more focused on the good,” Argudo said.

Variety was delivered in both content and form at this year’s benefit.

“I knew that a lot of the other dancers were focusing on contemporary work, so I put together a pas de deux, which is a guy and a girl dancing together en pointe,” said freshman Annie Mushrush, for whom Art For Life was her first experience choreographing for an NIU event. “It’s so great that the students have the freedom to preform what they want,” Mushrush said.

Art For Life is anything but conventional, and perhaps that’s why the event has continued to succeed. For over a decade, Art For Life has been providing a platform for students to express onstage what they stand for with a cause in mind.

“When you’re performing for yourself, it feels great, but when you’re performing to benefit for someone else its 100 times better,” Mushrush said.