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An infinite variety of movements

November 11, 2015

An NIU dance studentThe Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance Fall 2015 Dance Concert will showcase the training and many talents of the student dancers in the school’s dance performance program.

Opening Thursday, Nov. 19, the concert will feature six performance pieces with multiple styles of dance each of the four consecutive nights.

“Classical dancing mixed with contemporary, improvisational and post-modern dancing will be performed as a beautiful spectrum of what is expected of the dancers,” says Judith Chitwood, head of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance BFA in dance performance program.

Chitwood believes that the annual SoTD dance concerts demonstrate the strength of the dance program’s curriculum and training. The wide range of styles performed teaches the student dancers how to tell stories through an infinite variety of movements.

“People watch (television programs) ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ but the best dancers are the ones that have been classically trained at some point in their lives,” she says.

The featured classical work piece is an excerpt from the full-length ballet, “Esmeralda,” restaged by Chitwood. Loosely based on a character of the same name from the Victor Hugo novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the story involves the title character being in love with someone she cannot have, who in turn is loved by someone who cannot have her.

Because the full length version of the ballet was inspired by a novel written in 1844, Chitwood says, the “Esmeralda” ballet is a very traditional piece of art.

One of the modern works presented is a contemporary ballet choreographed by SoTD faculty member Rich Grund. It combines elements of classical ballet, such as pointe technique, but is characterized by a much greater range of body movement, such as those exhibited in modern dance.

NIU dance students

A comedic post-modern dance piece, “Drama Queens” is a new work choreographed by Paula Frasz, an associate professor of the SoTD. Eight dancers are costumed as if the piece is set in the Elizabethan era. However, they are all dressed to look like Queen Elizabeth herself. The dance is an improvisational movement piece, a technique with a unique ability to demonstrate the subtleties, cattiness and the drama that can exist in human relationships.

Dancers also will remount a work choreographed by the Arnie Zane/Bill T. Jones Dance Company specifically set on SoTD students and performed last spring at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago.

“The great post-modern choreographer (Jones) has really amazing moves to work with,” Chitwood says. “He’s a genius known for his artistry and movement complexity.”

NIU’s Fall 2015 Dance Concert runs Thursday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 22, and performed in the Huntley Middle School Auditorium, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday. All non-package tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and $9 for students.

Tickets are available online or by contacting the NIU School of Theatre and Dance box office at (815) 753-1600 or [email protected].