Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: David W. Booth/Elizabeth Granger, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-1337

April 18, 2008

NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents
Spring Dance Concert 2008

DeKalb — The Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance will present an evening of mixed dance styles in its final offering of the 2008-2009 theatre season, the Spring Dance Concert 2008. The dance concert runs May 1 through 4 in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre.

The evening of four dance pieces starts with a suite from the classical ballet “Raymonda,” followed by “Crossing,” a contemporary modern piece, a jazz selection called “Today’s Blues” and “Down So Long It Looks Like Up,” another modern piece.

“Raymonda,” choreographed by Marius Petipa (“The Nutcracker,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake” ballets) and restaged by Judith Chitwood, is a rich combination of the classical ballet technique combined with the theatrical style of Hungarian character dance. According to Chitwood, the selections from the ballet display choreographic genius, stylistic variety and the demanding ballet techniques of the Petipa’s Grand Imperial Style.

“Raymonda is a really beautiful, elegant ballet. As dancers, we are really big with our movements and showy with our attitudes,” says sophomore dance major, Lindsay Butler.

“Crossing” has been performed on the NIU stage before. It is an emotional piece that explores how three different family members cope with an impending death.

Senior dance major Yu Suzuki says the piece came about when the choreographer Kevin Campbell found out he had contracted the AIDS virus.

“He decided to create a dance piece about how his illness and death would affect his family and friends,” she says. “He thought his mother would be the strong one of the family, while his sister, who I am playing, would not be able to take the reality of his death and tries to hold on to him.”

“Today’s Blues,” choreographed by Karen Williamson, is contemporary dance movement to the sounds of American jazz saxophonist Arthur Blythe. Williamson describes here original work as far from mellow, going against the grain of what jazz music is typically thought to be.

“I would definitely not call it a jazz dance,” Williamson says. “I just liked the music and thought it would be something different for the concert.”

The idea for “Down So Long It Looks Like Up” was conceived during the choreographer’s fit of depression after existing on a tight budget for years in a foreign country. The dance piece is a slightly humorous yet poignant look at the downtrodden, the winos, paper bag ladies and the displaced elderly.

It was originally set and performed in London by the modern dance company Cycles, and the work made its debut at NIU in 1980.

The Spring Dance Concert will run May 1 through 4 in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Also on Sunday, in conjunction with the final performance of the season, the School of Theatre and Dance will host its annual Subscriber and Friend Open House from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. For reservations, contact the school at (815) 753-1337.

The Stevens building is located on west Lincoln Highway behind the McDonald’s and Pizza Hut restaurants. For more information and ticket reservations, contact the School of Theatre and Dance box office at (815) 753-1337.

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