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Come and meet those dancing feet: Nov. 20 concert salutes Broadway

November 13, 2014
Kittie Morris, Jameila Cartman, Abriana Willis, Linnea Norwood and Bernadette Chatman (on floor) appear in the “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” dance piece.

Kittie Morris, Jameila Cartman, Abriana Willis, Linnea Norwood and Bernadette Chatman (on floor) appear in the “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” dance piece.

“Got Broadway Rhythm, Everybody Dance!” – the upcoming Northern Illinois University School of Theatre & Dance presentation – will feature eight dance numbers from several of the all-time most popular Broadway musicals, such as “Grease,” “RENT,” “The Pajama Game,” “A Chorus Line” and more.

The shows open Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Huntley Middle School auditorium in DeKalb, and run one weekend only.

The Broadway-themed production is being choreographed by NIU faculty Judith Chitwood, Autumn Eckman and Paula Frasz, and is being performed entirely by students from the School of Theatre and Dance.

However, Frasz said, the overall production is unique in a couple of ways. The eight dance numbers will also feature students from other emphases in the school.

“ ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ features four male dancers who aren’t dance majors,” she said. “It has been exciting to see them transition to a professional dance experience.”

On the other hand, she said some of the show tunes require a little more depth than pure physical talent, which is generally a new experience for the dancers.

“Something unique about this show is the level at which the dancers are being asked to create a character,” she said. “For a lot of them, this is a first pass at acting. It’s been great to really see them come alive.”

A Chorus LineFrasz cites standout senior performer Paige Jacobus, performing in the solo piece, “Music and the Mirror” from “A Chorus Line,” as an example.

“Paige is someone who is incredibly detail-oriented, so to see her really let go of the details and live in the story has been fun to watch,” she said.

Performing in the piece is especially poignant for Jacobus, as she is making her final appearance on an NIU stage.

“It’s about an ex-star who goes to audition again after realizing that performance is her passion, and she can’t be without it,” Jacobus said.

Jamelia Cartman, also a senior BFA in dance performance candidate, is cast in “Medley from ‘Ain’t Misbehavin.’ ”

“It’s actually a review of pieces in the musical,” Cartman said. “ ‘Find Out What They Want’ is my favorite. It’s a little risque, but it’s really, really funny.”

“Mexican Breakfast” is a Bob Fosse piece which dwells heavily on subtleties, and that can be quite powerful, said Zoe Hamilton, a junior BFA in dance performance major. Hamilton said the original Fosse choreography is additionally famous as the inspiration for the choreography in Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video.

There are also two dance pieces from the operetta, “The Merry Widow,” including “Can Can” and “Cakewalk,” in which Hamilton also performs.

“It’s classical ballet, and it’s really challenged my endurance,” she said. “It’s also allowed me to play with character while performing classical ballet, which can be difficult.”

The Pajama GameFrom “The Pajama Game” comes another Bob Fosse piece called, “Steam Heat,” that sophomore BFA in dance performance candidate Jaclyn Allot calls “just quirky fun.”

“It’s really challenging to the trio (of dancers),” she said, “but the synchronization … is truly great, and the top hats are really fun to dance with.”

Performances of “Got Broadway Rhythm, Everybody Dance!” run Thursday, Nov.20, through Sunday, Nov. 23, at Huntley Middle School Auditorium, 1515 S. First St. in DeKalb. The shows might not be appropriate for children younger than 12.

Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students, and are available by contacting or visiting the Holmes Student Center SoTD box office from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays at (815) 753-1600.

This SoTD production is not affiliated with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.