Dance gala celebrates department’s anniversary

By Lacy Searcy

As the curtains opened and the lights dimmed, a crowd of more than 100 people excitedly anticipated Saturday night’s Gala dance concert.

For the 25th anniversary of the NIU theatre and dance program, 28 alumni returned to the stage to perform in the Gala alongside more than 60 dance students. Many of the numbers in this year’s show had been performed before and were restaged for the anniversary performance. There were nine pieces in the show.

DeKalb resident Brooke Howes said the show was a success because the dancing and costuming were top-notch.

The opening piece, “Ritual,” was a work choreographed through a collaboration between dance department faculty members. It featured 60 dance students.

“I was nervous, but I never got scared because this was my sixth dance performance,” sophomore dance major Genna Sears said.

Among the alumni returning to the stage was Jeff Diehl, a 2001 graduate and current member of the Louisville Ballet. Diehl performed as a soloist in the “Don Quixote Suite,” a ballet set by dance department coordinator Randall Newsom.

Murmurs of the audience’s enjoyment of the Don Quixote performance traveled through the room even after the program finished.

“This dance program prepares you well for a professional program,” Diehl said. “I had a great time and hopefully the dance program could have a 30th anniversary [performance] some day.”

There was a variety of music played at the concert from several different genres.

“Classical, folk and Spanish music dominated the concert,” Newsom said.

Newsom not only showcased his choreography in the Gala performance, but also showed off some dancing skills. Many audience members started clapping loudly as Newsom stepped onstage in a black tuxedo to perform in the concert’s final piece, “Strauss Schmaltzes.”

“My favorite piece of the concert was the one with Randall Newsom and Don Quixote,” DeKalb resident Conny Kramer said.