Opening Thursday, April 23, the NIU School of Theatre and Dance Spring 2015 Dance Concert will feature an iconic work by the world-renowned Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, “Spent Days Out Yonder,” set on and performed by dancers from the school.
This performance of “Spent Days Out Yonder” was made possible by a grant from NIU Foundation, and allowed Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company choreographer Catherine Cabeen to travel from New York and restage the piece with SoTD students.
In working with the students on the dance, Cabeen said she finds true performer dynamic in grouping together dancers who often are not cast together.
As a largely improvised dance piece, this dynamic earned the praise of NIU professor Judith Chitwood, head of the comprehensive program at SoTD. “Students were mesmerized by Cabeen’s leadership,” she said. “She was able to make the dancers explore and just let go.”
Once the piece was set, however, it was rehearsed by NIU dance professor Rich Grund.
The process wasn’t entirely about letting go, Grund said. “This show demonstrates the dancers exploring improvisation, but it also focuses on various other movements and still being able to stay on count,” he said.
Jones said in a press release that he recalled that the material which ultimately became “Spent Days Out Yonder” came out of “the meeting of a small African-American boy growing up in front of a jukebox in the 1950s.”
Other dance pieces in the concert serve as a demonstration of the diversity of the dance training at the school. The performances will include the restaging of the classical ballet, “Paquita,” by Marius Petipa; a modern dance piece named “Take Five” after Dave Brubeck’s accompanying music and choreographed by dance faculty member Autumn Eckman; and a duet choreographed by Chitwood.
Spring 2015 Dance Concert runs from Thursday, April 23, through Sunday, April 26. Performances are at the Huntley Middle School auditorium, 1515 S. Fourth St., with curtain times at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
This production is not affiliated with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.