The Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance’s upcoming Mainstage Series production of its Spring 2016 Dance Concert is a mixed repertoire dance show, with three dance pieces under the choreographic direction of faculty members Richard Grund, Blair Burkhalter and Paula Frasz.
Opening Thursday, April 28, the Spring 2016 Dance Concert illustrates the many facets of dance expression, including modern, classical and contemporary ballet.
Choreographer Grund says the concert “speaks volumes to (the students’) capabilities as dancers, and their ability to perform classical and postmodern works interchangeably.”
“It’s great to see how diversified our dance majors are,” Grund says. For his piece, Grund is restaging a ballet classic in “Swan Lake,” 140 years after its conception.
“Swan Lake” to this day is the “classical standard,” Grund says, and a learning tool for students. Because Swan Lake’s steps are so difficult, every ballet company is measured by how well its dancers can execute the technical beauty of this masterpiece.
The Spring 2016 Dance Concert also includes Frasz’s modern take on “Of the Joy That Kills.” Through its unique blend of modern dance and theater, this performance piece breaks all the boundaries of typical dance.
Frasz challenged her dancers by creating a modern dance interpretation of a play, using an elaborate set, props, spoken word, acting skills and folk music to tell the story of a woman’s exploration of freedom and loneliness. Set in the 1800s, Frasz’s “Of the Joy that Kills” is about a woman’s struggle to accept her husband’s death, and her reaction when she gets to see him one last time.
“I hope the audience takes away a new found respect for possibilities of modern dance and dramatic literature,” Frasz says, adding that the audience should have a “new found appreciation for performers that can equally dance and act.”
Burkhalter says she really wanted to choreograph a piece that fit in with the themes already in the show. Her contemporary ballet, “Inside Four Walls,” is a representation of what dancers experience inside a dance studio on a day-to-day basis.
However, Burkhalter says, “It (also) represents the mental aspects of dance – that a dancer’s mind is always in the studio, even when their physical body is not.”
Her piece depicts dancers’ relationships to their dancing, showing the highs, the lows and the “enduring aspect of the dancers’ long-term relationship to dance.”
Burkhalter believes that even long after a dancer chooses to leave dance as a career, they feel that dance is still a part of them. “Dance is their constant. They love it like a person,” she says.
“I don’t necessarily expect the audience to know it’s about the relationship to dance specifically,” she adds, “but just to see the intention that (a meaningful relationship) is there and should be a universal feeling for everyone.”
The Spring 2016 Dance Concert runs from Thursday, April 28, through Sunday, May 1, and is performed in Huntley Middle School auditorium, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. All non-package general admission tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors, $9 for students and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.