March 09, 2006

Dance troupe to perform at regional festival

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dancers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale will perform next week at a regional college festival, staging a self-choreographed number before a panel of professionals.

Five members of the Southern Illinois Dance Company will perform at the American College Dance Festival 2006 North Central Regional Conference. The performance is set for 6 p.m. Monday, March 13, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa

The SIUC dancers will perform a piece titled "Onomatopoeia or Obtuse?" Jacki Johnson, a senior in leisure service management and public relations from Naperville, choreographed the number, along with the following dancers: Marian Appiah-Kubi, graduate student from Toronto, Canada; Janell Huckstadt, junior from Champaign; Allison Meyer, sophomore from Elgin; and Lola Omoyosi, a graduate student from Cincinnati, Ohio.

The event includes dance troupes from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and beyond. Organizers expect more than 500 participants at the conference, which features classes and panel discussions on dance techniques and other such issues.

The SIUC group chose to compete in this conference based on its proximity and timing, which coincides with spring break.

The highlight of the trip is the performance Monday, said Donna Wilson, artistic director for the student organization and associate professor of physical education at SIUC.

"They have an opportunity to be judged and get verbal feedback from these professionals," Wilson said. "They want to do it. There's a very broad range of schools going here and it's a big deal to get it together and bring a piece like this."

"They'll get feedback on costumes, choreography, performance – just about everything," Wilson said.

Three professionals acting as judges will evaluate the performance. The judges will select which pieces from the five-day festival will be part of the Gala Performance set for Wednesday. A few of those will go on to the national conference later this year in New York.

The Southern Illinois Dance Company performance is a piece of modern dance about 5 minutes long, Wilson said. The dancers on stage aim to reflect the different instruments in the music and, like the music, they intertwine and relate to each other on stage. The piece is abstract and includes moments of precision contrasted with some improvisation.

The Southern Illinois Dance Company is a registered student organization more than 20 years old aimed at creating a professional dance environment. Its membership consists mostly of SIUC students, but is also open to community members and employees of SIUC.

The group has another performance set for April 7-8 at Furr Auditorium. The performances are set for 7:30 p.m. April 7 and 2 p.m., April 8.

Coordinating and expanding major cultural outreach programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.