May 1 NIU Philharmonic concert a tribute to Jan Bach

May 1 NIU Philharmonic concert a tribute to Jan Bach

Jan BachThe Northern Illinois University Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicating their upcoming concert to Dr. Jan Bach, an award-winning composer, musician and educator who passed away in 2020.

The concert is Sunday, May 1 at 7:00 p.m. in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the Music Building on the NIU main campus in DeKalb. Tickets can be purchased online. And a livestream of the concert will be available at the NIU School of Music website.

The NIU Philharmonic, with guest artist Liam Teague, will be performing some of Jan Bach’s compositions as part of the concert.

The winners of the NIU School of Music Jan Bach Prize for Music Composition will also be announced at the concert.

Jan Bach taught in the NIU School of Music for nearly 40 years. He studied under famed composer Aaron Copland at Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Mass. As a member of the US Army Band he performed at the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1962.

He was nominated six times for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, was named an NIU Presidential Professor in 1982, and was nominated for the Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education (CASE) Professor of the Year award six times.

More: Pandemic delayed memorial planned for Jan Bach, composer who taught at NIU – Chicago Sun-Times, April 15, 2022

Congratulate Professor of Dance Judith Chitwood on her retirement after the Dance Concert, May 1

Congratulate Professor of Dance Judith Chitwood on her retirement after the Dance Concert, May 1

Join the NIU School of Theatre and Dance at the final performance of this year’s Spring Dance Concert “The Past to the Present” as we congratulate Judith Chitwood, professor and coordinator of dance, on her retirement.

In her distinguished career as a dance educator at NIU, and the University of Cincinnati and Kansas State University before that, Judy has positively impacted the careers and lives of a generation of dance students.

Judy Chitwood

“My theory and preparation are always about who’s in front of me, and who is there at the time,” Chitwood said. “It’s about being in the moment. I think that’s been a really successful part of my teaching and my interaction with students. I really love being in that situation and seeing them grow after these four years, to become these young, contributing artists in the world.”



A reception will be held immediately following the final performance of this year’s Spring Dance Concert which begins at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, May 1 in the O’Connell Theatre. The reception will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. in the lobby. Tickets for the performance are available online. The O’Connell Theatre is located in the Stevens Building on NIU’s main campus.

Gifts to the NIU School of Theatre and Dance can be made in Judy’s honor here.

Spring Dance Concert features dances from “The Past to the Present”

Spring Dance Concert features dances from “The Past to the Present”

The Spring Dance Concert in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance features a little something for everyone as the six dances feature styles that range from classic to cutting edge.

The dance concert is held in the O’Connell Theatre in the Stevens Building on the NIU main campus. Performances are Thursday, April 28, Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. with 2:00 p.m. matinees on both Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $9 for non-NIU students and NIU students are free with a pre-reserved ticket.

Performance Pieces

Pas de Quatre
Eater of Hearts
We Gonna Be…
Sea Songs

Choreographers: Judith Chitwood, Rich Grund, Daniel Gibson, Paula Frasz
Scenic Designer: Eric Brockheimer
Costume Designer: Christina Leinicke
Lighting Designers: Alexa Wiljanen, Brandon Wardell, Ben Werner, Alejandra Favila
Technical Director: Adam Rager
Properties Designer: Dave Doherty
Assistant Scenic Designer: Skylar Revell
Assistant Scenic Designer: Hernan Acosta
Stage Manager: Jordan Clifton
Assistant Stage Manager: Gabby Gozdecki

Dance Notes

Pas de Quatre
Original Choreography: Jules Perrot
Restaged: Judith Chitwood
Music: Cesare Pugni

Marie Taglioni: Rachel Day,
Fanny Cerrito: Gwen Jones
Carlotta Grisi: Taryn Sarto
Lucile Grahn: Abigail Kresno

Pas de Quatre premiered in 1845 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. This ballet brought together four of the greatest Romantic ballerinas of the mid-nineteenth century: Marie Taglioni, Fanny Cerrito, Carlotta Grisi, and Lucile Grahn. The four ballerinas were great rivals and rehearsals were filled with tremendous tension and bickering. It was considered “the greatest Terpsichorean exhibition that was ever known in Europe.”

Eater of Hearts
Choreography by Paula Frasz
Music: “Caro Mio Ben” by Tommaso Giordani, “Plasir d’Amour” by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini
Dancer: Michael Rojas
Costume: Paula Frasz

“Never offer your heart
to someone who eats hearts who finds heartmeat delicious
but not rare
who sucks the juices
drop by drop
and bloody-chinned
like a God” –-Alice Walker

“I premiered this dance in Chicago at the Next Dance Festival. I set the piece at NIU on then-student Richard Grund. It was taken to the American College Dance Festival in Raleigh, NC and performed on the Gala Concert of the festival in 1996.” – Paula Frasz

We Gonna Be… (a continuation)
Dancers: Primary – Taneya Ball, Millie Collins, George Curtis, Antonio Houston, DaQuise McDonald, Darius Murray, Kai Poe, Tianna Stubbs, Ariana Williams
Secondary – Alyssa Altadonna, Athei Chagai, Darya Ellickson, Anna Lindstrom, Michael Rojas, Brenda Sifuentes
Music: “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
Choreography: Daniel Gibson with collaboration with the dancers

We all exist at a massive intersection, a nexus of countless and seemingly contradictory impulses that drive us along out journey. This piece is sliver of a larger work that explores the complexity of resilience, the maintenance of mental health, and allieship. The dancers and the choreographer collaborated using the vernacular of Hip-Hop movement to focus the attention on the power of personality as it builds a compassionate community. It begs the questions, at what point does a sermon transform into a party, and when exactly does tragedy give way to triumph?

Original Choreography: Septime Webre
Adaptation: Rich Grund
Music: Rodion Shchedrin, reworked selections from George Bizet; “Carmen”
Costume Design: Elizabeth Galba
Lighting Design: Alexa Wiljanen

Carmen: Kai Poe
Michaela: Rachel Day
Don Jose: George Curtis
Escamillo: Antonio Houston
Ensemble: Athei Chagai, Darya Ellickson, Abigail Kresno, Anna Lindstrom, Franki Mastrone, Ansley Pierce, Taryn Sarto

Sea Songs
Choreographer Paula Frasz
Music: Ed McCurdy, Stan Rogers, Joan Baez
Costumes: Kristi Klouda
Dancers: Alissa Altadonna, Millicent Collins, Jack Goings, Ansley Pierce

“I made this dance as a new faculty member in 1993. Originally, I had the dancer on the line as a young girl. Jere Tulk, former faculty member and great choreographic mentor to me said, with her typical forthright humor, ‘She looks like a fish.’ She suggested I change the dancer to a male performer, indicating a sailor lost at sea. I have kept the dance as is for 30 years and it remains one of my favorites. It was selected for the Gala Performance at the American College Dance Festival in Rochester, MI. in 1993, the year I started at NIU.” – Paula Frasz

Choreography by Paula Frasz
Rehearsal Directors: George Curtis and Kai Poe
Music: (Mixed by DJ Eddie Fisher) “Fight the Power “by Public Enemy, “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson, “Glory” by John Legend, “Marching on Ferguson” by Tom Morello
Costume: originally by Morgan Saaf-White
Dancers: Taneya Ball Marcel Boclair, Shantez Branch, George Curtis , Athei Chagai, Jack Goings, Antonio Houston, Darius Murray, Kai Poe, Michael Rojas and Ariana Williams

“I choreographed this in 2017, well before the George Floyd incident. I was moved by report after report of young Black men being victimized, of Colin Kaepernick and his struggles, of what turned out to be the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a white woman with a powerful platform for expression, I felt compelled to speak up. I am also blessed with a wealth of talented BIPOC dancers who speak with me. This dance was chosen for the National American College Dance Festival and performed in 2018 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Standing onstage at the Kennedy Center was the highlight of my career, and passing the message of this dance to the country one of my proudest achievements.” – Paula Frasz

Cast Bios

Alyssa AltadonnaAlyssa Altadonna (We Gonna Be, Sea Songs) Alyssa Altadonna is freshman BFA Dance major in performing arts. She has been dancing for about 15. Prior to joining NIU she lived in England where she trained at Cygnets and Hazelwood dance studios. Before moving to England she lived in Germany where she would train in the Netherlands every day expanding her different types of techniques. Alyssa hopes to move back to Europe and join a company, and particularly hopes to gain a place at The Dutch National Ballet.

Tanyea BallTaneya Ball (We Gonna Be, ENUF) Taneya Ball is a sophomore Dance Performance major. She started dancing at the age of three. She continued to dance her way through life by taking a few dance classes and training at the Chicago High School for the Arts, Taneya has enjoyed her time being here at NIU. She feels like she’s learning how to be more comfortable as a dancer. She’s also learning how to become a choreographer and also continue her journey and being comfortable being a part of the dance conservatory at NIU. Taneya would like to give a special thank-you to God, her family and friends, and lastly, her teachers for pushing her to come this far in life.

Shantez Branch (ENUF) Shantez Branch is a senior from Chicago majoring in Pre-Physical Therapy and minoring in Dance Performance. She has been on numerous interscholastic dance teams, danced at pageants, and choreographed for numerous groups. Her favorite style of dance is modern. She hopes to correlate her passion for dance in the physical therapy profession as a performance health specialist.


Marcell BoclairMarcell Boclair (ENUF) Marcell Boclair is a third year BA in Theater Studies candidate with a focus on acting, and a health and human sciences major here at NIU. He hopes you enjoy it!



Athei ChagaiAthei Chagai (ENUF, Carmen, We Gonna Be) Athei Chagai is a freshman at NIU from Clinton, Iowa. Athei is a BFA Dance major and has been dancing for the past 16 years. Before NIU, Athei received most of her dance training at the Carousel School of Dance in Clinton where she was also a member of the Gateway Contemporary Ballet Company. Athei has also attended summer dance workshops such as CNADM (Chicago National Association of Dance Masters) from 2016- 2019.

Millie CollinsMillicent Collins (Sea Songs, We Gonna Be) Millicent Collins is a freshman BFA Dance major and plans to earn a minor in Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Studies. Before attending NIU, Millicent trained with Turning Pointe Academy of Dance, in Maryville, Ill., and was a member of TourDance pre-professional dance company. She performed in the Student Elevate Project with The Big Muddy Dance Company in Saint Louis, 2018-2021. Millicent participated in summer intensives with The Big Muddy Dance Company, COCA Saint Louis, Nashville Ballet, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. In 2018 and 2019, she performed in Dance For Food, an outreach performance to benefit the Saint Louis Area Food Bank. Post-graduation from NIU, Millicent hopes to combine her love of social justice, community outreach, and the performing arts, to help others and inspire them through dance.

George CurtisGeorge Curtis (Carmen, We Gonna Be, ENUF) George Curtis is a senior Dance major at NIU. He had little to no experience in technical training starting his freshman year in college but now is proud to call himself a technically trained dancer. From performing “Opus Jazz” by Joel Hall to performing live on stage at Lyrical Lemonade he has gained versatility and the ability to flow easily in and out of dance styles, which is one of his most notable qualities.

Rachel DayRachel Day (Pas de Quatre, Carmen) Rachel is a senior who will be graduating in December 2022. She is a soloist in both ballets this semester, dancing the role of Michaela in “Carmen” and Marie Taglioni in “Pas De Quatre.” She has spent her dance career studying ballet and plans to join a ballet company after graduation. She has worked with groups outside of NIU, most recently, DanceLoop Chicago on their latest dance film “Maybe We Don’t Know Love.” Rachel enjoys the artistry and dedication put into creating dance. She says that she “enjoys working with new choreography and being a blank canvas.”

Darya EricksonDarya Ellickson (Carmen, We Gonna Be) Darya Ellickson is a sophomore BFA Dance major from DeForest, Wisc. She danced at Ultimate Leap Dance Center for nine years and has also performed with DeFortes, a show choir, for four years. This past summer, Darya attended the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre Summer Intensive program in Chicago. Darya holds the role of Northern Dance Theatre secretary. Darya plans to graduate in Fall of 2024 and hopes to work on Broadway or dance with Disney.

Jack GoingsJack Goings (Sea Songs, ENUF) Jack Goings is a senior BFA Acting candidate with a minor in Dance. He is so excited to dance live for the first time at NIU. Previous dance roles include the Snow King in “The Nutcracker,” The Prince in the ballet rendition of “Sleeping Beauty,” and various NIU dance productions such as Art for Life, and the Student Choreographed Showcase.


Antonio Houston (Carmen, We Gonna Be, ENUF) Antonio is a freshman BFA Dance major. He has been dancing since the age of five and his favorite style is tap. Before coming to NIU, Antonio’s youth was very busy as he was a competition dancer for multiple dance studios. He danced for a ballet company called Ballet Chicago and the professional tap company Madd Rhythms. He is very grateful to train at NIU and can’t wait to learn more about himself through dance.

Gwen JonesGwen Jones (Pas de Quatre) Gwen Jones is a junior BFA Dance major with a minor in Special Education. A Victoria Young Scholarship recipient, she has had the opportunity to appear in pieces such as “Shirtwaist Factory,” “Can-Can,” as well as “Spirit of the Horse” in Lake City, Fla. with the Pas de Cheval dancers. Alongside performing, Gwen is also assistant choreographer for Penguin Players, a musical theatre organization starring a cast of adults with disabilities. After graduation, and a professional performance career, she plans to teach classes for individuals with disabilities.

Abigail KresnoAbigail Kresno (Carmen, Pas de Quatre) Abigail Kresno is a third-year Dance major. She had repertoire choreographed on her from Joel Hall, a wildly acclaimed choreographer. Abigail studied under Richard Smith at the Inside summer intensive. She also had the opportunity to collaborate with Richard Grund on her solo for “Dancing Forward Together.”

Anna LindstromAnna Lindstrom (We Gonna Be, Carmen)
Anna Lindstrom is a sophomore BFA dance major. This is Anna’s third mainstage production at NIU plus the online video productions last year. Anna is from Morrison Ill., and danced at Jennifer’s Dance Center for 14 years. She had been training in multiple styles with special interests in contemporary and ballet but also has a background in clogging. During high school she was involved in the dance team where she choreographed many halftime routines and competed in high kick. She also performed summer stock theatre for TimberLake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Ill., which included several dance ensemble roles.

Franki MastroneFranki Mastrone (Carmen) Franki is thrilled to be performing in this semester’s dance concert! They are a first year BFA Actor from Stamford, Ct. There they studied theater at Curtain Call Inc., where they performed roles such as Miss Honey in “Matilda”, and Gangster #1 in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Franki is also a proud alum of The Ballet School of Stamford, where they had the privilege of performing in many contemporary and classical ballets. Thanks to all who made this production possible!

DaQuise McDonald (We Gonna Be)

Darius MurrayDarius Murray (ENUF, We Gonna Be) Darius Murray is a 19-year-old Dance major from Chicago. Darius began his journey on to dance at the age of three, performing at various functions as well as church with praise and worship dance. Darius began his professional dance career at ETA Creative Arts in Chicago, where he studied hip hop, modern, West African, and majorette dance. He recently graduated from the Chicago High School for the Arts where he studied various dance styles such as ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, African, Spanish, and hip hop dance. He received many rewards such as the honor roll student back in 2018 as well as the scholar artist of the year from 2019 to 2020. Darius’ dream in life is to open up his own dance studio and be a choreographer as well.

Ansley PierceAnsley Pierce (Carmen, Sea Songs) Ansley Pierce is senior in her second year at NIU after studying at a conservatory in Kansas City for two years under the direction of Paula Weber. She trained in Kansas City with notable names such as Deeply Rooted founder Garry Abbott, renowned dancer Ronald Tice, and former Ailey dancer DeeAnna Hiett, amongst others. After her first year at NIU she was awarded the Jerry Tulk Choreography Scholarship. This past year she has also modeled for and represented Russian Pointe, along with being a Ballet Rosa Soloist.

Kai PoeKai Poe (Carmen, We Gonna Be, ENUF) Kai Poe is a senior Dance major. Starting her technical training four years ago, she has since had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Joel Hall, Nicole Clarke-Spriger, and Kevin Iega Jeff. One of her most exciting performances was with the Deeply Rooted Dance Theater company. This is her fourth production in the O’Connell Theatre and she couldn’t be more thrilled to showcase this semesters’ hard work. As vice president of the Northern Dance Theater board and student director she is not only dedicated to having a dance career but also a leadership role within the community.

Michael RojasMichael Rojas (ENUF, We Gonna Be, Eater of Hearts) Michael Rojas is a senior working to achieve his BFA in Performing Arts Dance. While Michael has trained, he has become an astonishing leader to other dancers. He is the 2021-2022 president of NDT. He’s been dancing for 3.5 year and has trained in various styles of dance while performing for the School of Theatre and Dance. Michael has been in four mainstage performances and two virtual performances. His mission is to spread awareness to younger adults through the movement of dance. During Michael’s training at NIU he has also worked for a nonprofit organization program, Trio Upward Bound, mentoring younger adults in the Aurora and Rockford area. He has taught many lessons to young adults by leading them into their future paths. Michael hopes to see all people chase their dreams, while teaching others to help one another by spreading awareness of abuse, suicide awareness, mental health awareness, and world issues.

Taryn SartoTaryn Sarto (Carmen, Pas de Quatre) Taryn Sarto is a senior BFA Dance major with a minor in rehabilitation counseling. She is a recipient of both the Talented Student Tuition Waiver and the René LeBeau Memorial Endowed Scholarship from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. She trained at Beth Fowler School of Dance prior to attending NIU and has been training for sixteen years in various styles, with a special interest in ballet and contemporary. Taryn is the current choreographer for Penguin Players – a musical theater organization comprised of a creative team of NIU students and starring a cast of adults with disabilities. She directed Northern Dance Theatre’s Student Choreographic Showcase in Spring 2021, as well as NDT’s production of Art for Life in Fall 2021. She is graduating from NIU this spring and will be pursuing a career in choreography, dance education, and coaching. Ultimately, she plans to own her own studio.

Brenda Sifuentes (We Gonna Be)

Tianna StubbsTianna Stubbs (We Gonna Be) Tianna Stubbs was born and raised in Chicago. She is now a sophomore Dance major and minor in sports management. Tianna started dancing when she was four years old at Mayfair Dance Academy. She made her transition when she attended Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts for four years. She was trained under one of the best, Stephaine Kawesch all while being a majorette captain for three years. Because of this training and experience, Tianna was more than prepared for her college career. Although this is Tianna’s second year, she has grown tremendously as a dancer and choreographer. She is extremely excited to showcase her different skills in this show.

Ariana WilliamsAriana Williams (We Gonna Be, ENUF) Ariana Williams began dancing when she was four years old. Since then, she has participated in many genres of dance such as ballet, hip hop, liturgical dancing, and poms. Ariana is currently a sophomore studying Dance Performance. After college she plans on residing in Texas to further her career as a professional dance choreographer with plans on owning her own dance studio. Ariana would like to give thanks to her mother, grandmother, teachers, family and friends and most importantly God for supporting her through her journey.

Production Team

Judith Chitwood (Choreographer) Judith Chitwood is a professor and coordinator of dance at NIU. Ms. Chitwood began her training at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, Ill. and continued to study in Chicago at the Ruth Page Center and Evanston School of Ballet. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music. She continued her training in classical ballet and became a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Company. She also performed with MOMEMTA Dance Company in reconstructions
of modern dance pioneer, Doris Humphrey. Ms. Chitwood is also a certified Pilates instructor since 2003 in Romana’s Pilates of New York and continues to study the highly specialized work of Joseph Pilates with Master Teacher Trainer, Juanita Lopez.

Rich Grund (Choreographer) Rich Grund’s performing career includes principal and soloist roles in over forty ballets in the Dayton Ballet repertoire, and tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. Other international credits include dancing by invitation with the Finnish National Ballet, and performing a residency in Cuba commissioned through the Harkness Foundation. His credits include director and répétiteur for Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre’s productions of “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Peter Pan,” and “Carmen” ballets, for the Colorado Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet companies. Rich’s research in learner centered ballet teaching practices awarded him the MA degree in Education from the Royal Academy of Dance, and the University of Bath, and he is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. He is an associate professor of dance at NIU, and is on faculty at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Chicago.

Daniel Gibson (Choreographer) A Georgia native, Daniel has been dancing professionally since he graduated from the University of Georgia. Trained in hip-hop/breakdance, jazz, African, contemporary, and ballet, Daniel debuted his professional performing career with 13th Floor Performing Arts and a national tour. He continued his training in capoeira, acrobatics, and contemporary becoming a company member for the Chicago based fusion company, Chicago Dance Crash. After relocating to Chicago, Daniel has performed for the Oprah Winfrey Show, Kid Sister with Kanye West, Culture Shock Chicago, Elephant Filmworks, a national campaign for Uniqlo and UPS, Lucky Plush Productions, the Seldoms, and Chicago Dance Crash. He was a featured dancer in the short film, “Wonderland or Humans who talk and dance.” Daniel has been a featured presenter and master instructor for NDA, the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders Training Program, JamFest, WACPC, Columbia College, Roosevelt University, SIEU, and the University of Kentucky dance team. He is passionate about the intersection of the mind and body and teaches extensively on the role of social emotional learning in both the public education and private sectors. He is currently adjunct faculty at NIU.

Paula Frasz (Choreographer) Paula Frasz “has the talent and vision made infinitely clear in the sharpest and best-designed work” announced Sid Smith in the Chicago Tribune. Tribune critic Lucia Mauro calls her, “…a standout”. Her many achievements include: Mordine & Company featured dancer and featured dancer at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has been named Resident Choreographer of the Bosphorus Dance Company in Istanbul, Turkey and at the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, Mass. Her choreography has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

She is one of the founding choreographers of Chicago’s Next Dance Festival, whose work has been called “powerfully modern” by Lynne Voedisch of the Chicago Sun Times. She received the 1999 Ruth Page Award for Artistic Achievement in Choreography from the Chicago Dance Coalition, and the 2002 Artists Fellowship Award in Choreography from the Illinois Arts Council. From 2002 to 2015 Frasz was the Artistic Director of DanszLoop Chicago, a professional dance company which the Chicago Tribune calls “…a driving force on the Chicago dance scene.” Ms. Frasz was a faculty member at the Dance Center of Columbia College for eight years. She is currently professor of dance at NIU and has been in residence at many colleges and universities, including St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, Southern Illinois University, Winona State University and St. Mary’s College in Minnesota, Harper College and College of DuPage. In 2002, she started DanszLoop Chicago (nfp), a theatrical modern dance company performing in Chicago and the surrounding Metropolitan area. They performed at nearly 50 venues in their first year. The company made its New York debut in September of 2012, where critics said “Frasz’s powerful choreography brought an intriguing twist to this, and left me wanting more.”

In 2013 Frasz made her acting debut in “The Chorus Girl Plays” at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival. Frasz also received the 2002 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for Excellence in Choreography. After a broken leg sidelined her in 2015, she taught dance for three months on a scooter, recorded her learning experiences as a handicapped dancer and then presented the findings at the International Fine Arts Conference in Athens, Greece. Her article “How Injury Changed the Way I Teach” appeared in the March 2017 edition of Dance Teacher Magazine.

In 2018 Frasz brought her dance ENUF to the American College Dance Regional Festival. It was selected as best in the Midwest and will be performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC at the National American College Dance Festival. The adjudicators described the work in the following way: ENUF reflects on the present and imagines a future rooted in the long Civil Rights movement, from the abolishment of slavery to Black Lives Matter. Through urgent athleticism, it creates collective and individual bodies of protest and power. For her work with the BIPOC community, Frasz was awarded the 2021 Deacon Davis Diversity Award at Northern Illinois University, and was named a Presidential Engagement Partnership Professor. Ms. Frasz holds a BA and an MA from Butler University. She graduated from the University of Illinois with an MFA. She is also a member of Actor’s Equity Association and has served several terms on the Illinois Arts Council Dance Panel. Ms. Frasz is an active and vital member of Chicago’s dance community. She has performed, choreographed and taught internationally in Brisbane, Australia, Istanbul, Turkey, Cannes, France, several locations in Austria, and other destinations. – “A tongue-in-cheek choreographer with a spunky stage presence” as Lucia Mauro of the Sun Times insists, Paula Frasz continues to produce her work around the United States and abroad. As one critic wrote: “This review is full of superlatives, but she deserves them. Thank you, Paula Frasz!”

Eric Brockmeier (Scenic Designer) Eric is a first-year MFA Scenic Design graduate student. His previous works include scenic designer for the Fall Dance Concert (NIU 2021), scenic designer for “The Games Afoot” (Elgin Community College 2022), assistant scenic designer for “The Conference of the Birds” (NIU 2022), charge artist for “Twelfth Night” (NIU 2021), scenic designer for the University of Northern Colorado’s production of “The Heiress” (2020), assistant scenic designer for “The Cherry Orchard” (2019 UNCO), and assistant charge artist for “The Imaginary Invalid” (2018 UNCO). He would like to thank his friends, family, and professors for the support to get to this point. Enjoy the show! Joshua 1:9

Alexa Wiljanen (Lighting Designer) Alexa Wiljanen is a second year MFA Lighting Design student. Alexa holds a BFA in Theatre: Design and Technology from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. Previous design credits include: “The Language Archive” (NIU), “You Are You” (NIU), Fall Dance 2021 (NIU), Twelfth Night (NIU), “Kernel of Sanity” (NIU), Collide: Deos Contemporary Ballet (Grand Rapids, MI), “Amadeus” (WMU), and Mostly Medieval Theatre Festival (Kalamazoo).

Ben Werner (Lighting Designer) Ben Werner is a fourth year BFA Design and Technology candidate, focusing on sound and lighting. Spring Dance
is Ben’s sixth show here at NIU. His previous NIU credits include sound design for “The Conference of the Birds,” “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” and “Angels in America,” assistant sound designer for Fall Dance 2019, and assistant sound designer for “The Time of Your Life.” Ben has also worked with Northern Sky Theater in Door County, Wisc. for the past three years where he has held the position of audio technician and was given the opportunity to design six shows.

Skylar Revell (Assistant Scenic Designer) Skylar Revell is an aspiring scenic painter from Oconomowoc, Wisc. looking forward to graduating with a BFA in Technical Theater this May. In her time at NIU she’s had the opportunity to paint and build shows in the scene shop including the Fall Dance Concert of 2019, “A Bright New Boise,” and most recently “The Conference of the Birds.” She is looking forward to working with the Timber Lake Playhouse as a charge artist and carpenter for their summer season. Her skills have grown exponentially with the help and guidance of amazing artists Rachel Seabaugh and Eric Brockmeier.

Jordan Clifton (Stage Manager) Jordan Clifton is an alumna from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. She is currently a full time EMT, which was definitely not something she thought she’d be doing, but now cannot imagine doing anything else. She does still stage manage whenever she has the opportunity, and will always come back for the dance program, they hold a special place in her heart. Some of her past show credits at
NIU include stage manager for the Fall Dance Concert (’21), “Wonderfully Alice” (’19), the Spring 2018 Dance Concert, “The Glass Menagerie” (’18),
“The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” (’17), Spring 2016 Dance Concert, “Out of the Blue” (’16), and “The Balcony Scene” (’16). She was also the lighting designer for Art for Life (’15), Student Choreographic Showcase (’16), Art for Life (’16), andtThe Fall 2017 Dance Concert. She is currently also the stage manager for the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance. She’s thankful for all the support she has received being back in the SoTD, and hopes you enjoy the show!

Gabby Gozdecki (Assistant Stage Manager) Gabby Gozdecki is a first-year BFA Actor, but is excited to be playing a technical role as assistant stage manager in the Spring Dance Concert. In the past, she has stage managed for “Seussical Jr.,” worked as run crew for Fall Dance Concert, and most recently worked costumes for “The Conference of the Birds.” She loved working with Jordan and is very thankful for the countless lessons Jordan has taught her. Next year, you will most likely find her performing on the stage, but she has enjoyed her time exploring technical theater. In the future, she hopes to continue to combine her love of all theater to create a unique career.

Production Staff

Scenic Coordinator – Sahin Sahinoglu
Scene Shop Supervisor – Kallen Eckert
Run Crew – James Bennett, Kyara Chisolm, Lizzie Cizczon, Eli Oleson

Costume Design Advisor – Jeremy W. Floyd
Costume Director – Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor – Clare Ritchey-Kaplan

Lighting Shop Advisor – Brandon Wardell
Lighting Design Supervisor – Chris Kurszewski
Resident Master Electrician – Chris Kurszewski
Sound Board Operator – Jordan Clifton

Properties Director – Dave Doherty

Technical Direction Advisor – Tracy Nunnally
Production Manager – Ethan Rosing
House Manager Supervisor – Tómas Dakan

School of Theatre and Dance presents “The Language Archive”

School of Theatre and Dance presents “The Language Archive”

Researchers studying a dying language become involved in a love triangle in this absurdist farce that teases out the quirky differences between what’s expressed and what’s meant in “The Language Archive” written by Julia Cho, directed by Bethany Mangum-Oles and Emily Vitrano, and running in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance’s Sally Stevens Players Theater April 22-24 and 28-30.

Tickets are available at the online box office and are $7. NIU students are admitted free of charge.

Playwright: Julia Cho
Directors: Bethany Mangum-Oles and Emily Vitrano Lighting Designer: Alexa Wiljanen
Sound Design: Company Collaborated
Technical Director: Elizabeth Ahles
Dramaturg: Cody Marbutt
Assistant Director: Hani Jung
Assistant Lighting Designer: Alex Kozak
Stage Manager: Jessica Ferreira


George – Brennan James
Emma – Isabelle Ajemian
Mary – Emma Mansfield
Resten – Zachary Harness
Instructor/Old Man/Passerby/Conductor/Zamenhof – Jasmyn Richardson

Cast Bios

Brennan OlsonBrennan James (George) – is a second year BFA candidate. This is Brennan’s first show here at NIU and he is beyond grateful for this opportunity. This past summer he was involved in Studio Vibe’s “Shrek the Musical” as Donkey and is currently cast in “Matilda the Musical” as Mr. Wurmwood. Brennan would like to thank his parents for their continuous support through and through. He is ecstatic to share this experience with you in hopes that the story opens the outlook on your own personal language!

Isabelle AjemianIsabelle Ajemian (Emma) – is a third year BFA Acting candidate. She has appeared in a couple of previous productions here at NIU, which include “A Bird in the Hand” directed by Bethany Mangum-Oles and “Everybody” directed by Edwin Lee Gibson. This will be her first in-person performance since 2019 and is so excited to share this piece of work that is so close to her heart.

Emma Mansfield (Mary) – is a second year BFA acting candidate and is excited to make her acting debut here at NIU. Hailing from Sault Ste Marie, Michigan; Emma has had years of experience studying throughout the mitten state. Some of her previous credits include #13 in “The Wolves,” Rizzo in “Grease,” and Miranda in “The Tempest.” She is thankful to, once again, perform with a live audience and is thrilled to share this story with you.

Zac HarnessZachary Harness (Resten) – is a third year BFA Acting candidate. Previous NIU credits include Fedotik in Anton Chekov’s “Three Sisters” B in “Town Hall,” Fish and Gaffles in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.” You can see him this summer at Notre-Dame Shakespeare Festival in South Bend, Ind., as Bertram in “All’s Well That Ends Well,” and Tybalt in “Romeo and Juliet.” He hopes that you enjoy the show.

Naava Ofri-AkmanNaava Ofri-Akman (Alta) – is a third year BFA Acting student. Previous credits include “A Bird in the Hand” and “Everybody.”



Jasmyn RichardsonJasmyn Richardson (Instructor/Old Man/Passerby/Conductor/Zamenhof) – Jasmyn Richardson is a second year BFA Acting student from Chicago. This is her debut performance on the NIU stage. She is so excited to share this lovely performance with you and hope you all enjoy the show!

Production Team Bios

Julia ChoJulia Cho (Playwright) – Julia Cho “Labels are the way we make the world convenient” says playwright Julia Cho. Somewhat inconveniently, she rejects “Korean American” and identifies herself as simply as “American.” Born in 1975 to Korean immigrant parents on the West Coast, Cho explains “It was a very porous household. For me to say that being of Korean origin influences my work is the same as saying being a woman or being American influences my writing.” She cites Caryl Churchill, Chekhov, Chay Yew, and Sarah Ruhl as her “playwriting heroes.” Charles Isherwood, in his review of her 2016 play “Aubergine,” praises her
“perceptive sense of the invisible barriers that mysteriously spring up between people, and the equally mysterious impulses that bind them together.” Language and mortality are important to Cho. “The Language Archive,” a play about the death of languages, combines two of her favorite themes. Cho is a graduate of Amherst College, New York University and the Juilliard Playwrights. She teaches at UC Berkeley.

Bethany Mangum OlesBethany Mangum-Oles (Director) – Bethany is an actor, director, educator, and mama of two born and raised in southern California. Marking her ninth directed production with NIU, she is thrilled to be returning to the studio this season with her co-direction of “The Language Archive.” Bethany holds a BFA in acting from California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA in acting from NIU where her studies have taken her abroad to the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia and the Adana International Theatre Festival in Adana, Turkey. Since gaining her MFA, she has found her artistic home here at NIU as full-time Performance Area Faculty. Bethany also serves as Rotating Voice and Movement Faculty at the Gately-Poole Studio, is a Certified Intimacy Captain, and currently in training for her Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher Certification. Next semester at NIU, you can catch her direction of Sarah Ruhl’s “Melancholy Play.”

Emily VitranoEmily Vitrano (Director) – Emily Vitrano is very excited to share “The Language Archive “with the NIU community. Emily is an Instructor of acting, voice, and movement at NIU, and an actor, director, and writer making her creative home in Chicago. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University. She is a certified yoga instructor at the 200-hour level, and recently became certified in Mental Health First Aid. Working as a director and intimacy coordinator, Emily utilizes foundational principles created by theatrical intimacy education. These consent-based practices rely on the foundational understanding that consent is contextual, conditional, and revocable and include establishing and respecting boundaries, a de-loaded process, choreography, and documentation. As an actor, Emily has worked regionally on many stages, including: Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, and Allentown Shakespeare in the Park. Emily has also appeared on television in a national commercial for Batteries/Bulbs Plus, and regional commercials for Mills Fleet Farm, Sanford Brown University, and Walgreens. Emily is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and is represented by Talent X in Chicago. For Miles, Henry, and Ani: Mir Ne Glessalla, I never want you not with me.

Alexa Wiljanen (Lighting Designer) – Alexa Wiljanen is a second year MFA Lighting Design student. Alexa holds a BFA in Theatre: Design & Technology from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. Previous design credits include: “You Are You” (NIU), Fall Dance Concert 2021 (NIU), “Twelfth Night” (NIU), “Kernel of Sanity” (NIU), Collide: Deos Contemporary Ballet (Grand Rapids, MI), “Amadeus” (WMU), and Mostly Medieval Theatre Festival (Kalamazoo, Mich.)

Hani Jung (Assistant Director) – Hani is a fourth year BA Theatre Studies candidate at NIU. This is her second show as an assistant director, and she is very excited and grateful to be a part of this production of “The Language Archive.”

Jessica Ferreira (Stage Manager) – Jessie is a senior BFA Design and Technology student at NIU pursuing stage management. This is her first show as stage manager at NIU and she has immensely enjoyed her time working on “The Language Archive.” Previously Jessie has been a part of “Everybody” (NIU) and “Twelfth Night” (NIU) as assistant stage manager.

Production Team

Scenic Coordinator – Sahin Sahinoglu
Scene Shop Supervisor – Kallen Eckert
Run Crew – Liz Karth

Costume Design Advisor – Jeremy W. Floyd
Costume Director – 
Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor – Clare Ritchey-Kaplan
Lighting Design Advisor –
Brandon Wardell
Resident Master Electrician – Chris Kurszewski

Properties Director – Dave Doherty

Technical Direction Advisor –
Tracy Nunnally
Production Manager – 
Ethan Rosing
Stage Management Supervisor – Ethan Rosing
House Manager Supervisor – 
Tómas Dakan

Graphic Design Concepts for Program and Publicity – Vincent J. Augustine

Special Thanks: Terry McClellan, Dave Doherty, NIU Prop Shop Team, Ben Werner, Jeremy Floyd, Dr. Schneider, Chris Kurszewski, Alexa Wiljanen, Elizabeth Ahles, Jessie Ferreira, Ethan Rosing, Becky Mangum, Kathy, Jason, Bennett, and Georgia Oles, Logan Blake, and the acting company for their tireless efforts of physical and emotional storytelling.

School of Music’s Liam Teague selected as 2022 NIU Board of Trustees Professor

School of Music’s Liam Teague selected as 2022 NIU Board of Trustees Professor

Liam Teague, Professor of Music and Head of Steelpan Studies in the School of Music has added to his impressive list of accomplishments with his selection as a 2022 Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees Professor.

Liam Teague has been selected as a 2022 Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees Professor.

Teague is a world-renowned performer and composer. He is one of the leading figures in creating and commissioning new solo steelpan and steelpan orchestral works, many of which have been published and performed by esteemed ensembles like the National Steel Symphony of Trinidad and Tobago and soloists at venues like Carnegie Hall. He has performed at concert venues from Madison Square Garden, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Symphony Center in Chicago, the Teatro Nacional de Panama in Panama City, Teatro Nacional de Costa Rico in San Jose, to The Queen’s Hall in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Teague was originally drawn to NIU as a student from Trinidad and Tobago to study under NIU Steelband founders Al O’Connor and Cliff Alexis. Teague was a 2018 recipient of an NIU Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professorship and has devoted the majority of the award to engaging composers to create innovative pieces for solo steelpan and with non-steelpan instruments (piano, violin, percussion ensemble, etc.) Several of these works have been embedded into NIU’s steelpan majors’ curriculum and Teague feels they will be beneficial to generations of steelpan musicians by providing access into musical avenues which have been largely untapped.

“Professor Teague is an inspiration. Deeply soulful and committed in his artistry, extremely careful and organized in his planning, Liam has cultivated a crystal-clear vision to transform the steelpan into an instrument of supreme virtuosity that can stand alongside the violin as a premiere concert solo instrument,” said Greg Beyer, Professor and Director of Percussion Studies at NIU. “As a result of his relentless pursuit of excellence, his reputation proceeds him nationally and internationally. He is known in percussion circles as the ‘Paganini of the steelpan.’ This is neither exaggeration nor hyperbole. Teague’s performances feature blistering virtuosity astonishingly delivered with clarity and grace.”

Recent NIU School of Music graduate Jaron Woodsley, who earned bachelor’s degrees in both music performance and music education, says Teague brings the world to the program. “He goes beyond the call of duty for his students, and others, in any way possible. Such is his commitment to his students that he does not want them to miss contact hours, so he has his lessons online wherever in the world he may be, even when there’s a significant time difference. He seeks out young and upcoming steelpan musicians from all over the world to study with him and other faculty members at NIU, broadening and further diversifying the program.”

Michael Bump, Professor and Director of Percussion Studies at Truman State University, first encountered Teague nearly 30 years ago when Bump, then a graduate student at the University of Illinois saw him perform on a tenor pan for U of I students and faculty. “None present had ever witnessed such flights of virtuosity on pan, the demonstration leaving an indelible awareness that a defining artistic experience had just taken place,” Bump said. “In the years since, Liam and I have had several opportunities to professionally interact, including on four different occasions when he has been my invited guest artist clinician at both Ohio State University and Truman State. Throughout this span of time, the young virtuoso of that first encounter has blossomed into an internationally revered performing artist, teacher, and composer. In Liam, the people of Trinidad and Tobago gifted the world a tireless ambassador of the unique musical voice that is pan. How fortunate the NIU community is to have such a dedicated life-long learner. One who embraces the art of the question, patiently and tirelessly sharing the wealth of his knowledge with those around him.”

Avery Attzs came to NIU to follow a similar path to Teague. He studied under him for six years. “As a young boy growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, the name ‘Liam Teague’ was a familiar one,” Attzs said. “Oftentimes it was used as a noun to describe someone who showed exceptional talent or promise when it came to playing the steelpan. Although incredibly humble, Liam Teague is considered a legend and is held in the highest regard by the global steelpan community. He continues to bring great pride to the people of Trinidad and Tobago as he promotes Trinidadian culture to the highest degree. Through his commissioning of new music for the steelpan and his dedication to bringing diverse musicians together, he continues to blaze the trail of excellence as he works to push the steelpan to new heights.”

Teague has also taught and performed for the past 25 years at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wisc., and has also taught and performed at the California State University Summer Arts Camp and at the Interlochen Academy for the Performing Arts.

Teague is the author of a steelpan method for beginners published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, the world’s largest publisher of print music.

He has created arrangements for the most celebrated steelband competition in the world, Panorama, for Nutrien Silver Stars Steel Orchestra, Harvard Harps Steel Orchestra, Starlift Steel orchestra, and Skiffle Steel Orchestra. He has many recordings to his credit, including Hands Like Lightning, For Lack of Better Words, Panoramic: Rhythm Through an Unobstructed View and Open Window.