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Theatre and Dance students host Black Art Matters open mic event

Theatre and Dance students host Black Art Matters open mic event

The School of Theatre and Dance Student Advisory Committee sought to give students and alumni an outlet for expression by hosting Black Art Matters, an online open mic night, July 10.

Brandon Sapp, a BFA Acting major and member of the Student Advisory Committee, said the purpose of the event was to provide a way for “art to be present in the midst of all the tragedy.”

More than a dozen students and alumni participated in the open mic night, with performances ranging from spoken word, to poems, to songs.

“We wanted to create an event that would make black artists feel their talents and art was enough to contribute to the fight of racial injustice,” Sapp said. “We wanted to provide a platform that encouraged free expression without judgement and to feel confident to speak out. I was amazed by the grate amount of black artists who came out and shared their work.”

Sapp said the idea is for Black Art Matters to become an annual event, and that the school’s Student Advisory Committee will develop a Black Art Matters website to give BIPOC students an opportunity to express their thoughts, support the work of black artists and black owned businesses, to showcase past shows with black representation and suggest ideas for events for their artistry throughout the academic year.

He said it was gratifying to see the open mic performances. “Seeing everyone collectively stand firm in their truth, however it appeared, was amazing to me,” he said. “It made me feel like we are more than capable of fighting against racial injustice constructively and willing to support each other during tragic times. During the event, we asked for donations toward the Black Lives Matter Movement and for everyone to sign a petition for Breonna Taylor, which was just as impactful as the event itself.”

NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Penguin Project choreography

NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Penguin Project choreography

The cancellation of the season’s final performances in the College of Visual and Performing Arts had an impact on all students, but for senior dance performance majors Chloe McCoy and Katie Meyer it not only wiped out their final dance performance, but left them in need of finding a show to “tech” as part of their requirements.

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NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Choreography students get back to nature

NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Choreography students get back to nature

As NIU and the world around us deals with a global pandemic, artists continue to find ways to express themselves. In the College of Visual and Performing arts the learning and teaching hasn’t stopped, it’s simply evolved to meet the needs and limitations of the situation. Over the coming days, we’ll be featuring how NIU students, alumni and faculty in the arts are continuing to do what they love.

The abrupt change to learning from home has been a challenge for all NIU students and faculty. In every challenge there is an opportunity and few groups were impacted more, or have responded as creatively as those studying and teaching dance in the School of Theatre and Dance. (more…)

A brief reflection on art during the Holocaust Days of Remembrance

A brief reflection on art during the Holocaust Days of Remembrance

Written by: Martina Berger, senior dance performance major, NIU School of Theatre and Dance

There has been a huge wave of articles that have been published in recent weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is simply one more that will crash onto your screen, yet please allow it to give you another perspective and to reveal to you several insights about art and humanity that I have discovered to be true in this time. As our country takes time to remember the Holocaust this week, it is both appropriate and imperative that we exercise our ability to hold on to what is true. (more…)

Huskie Spotlight – Mark Macaranas, School of Theatre and Dance

Huskie Spotlight – Mark Macaranas, School of Theatre and Dance

Marc Macaranas

Assistant Professor of Dance

Marc MacaranasWhere is your hometown, and where do you reside now?
I’m from a little farm town in California called the Delano, in central California just outside of Bakersfield. I did my undergrad in Southern California at UC Irvine. I guess I consider myself more a Chicagoan now, since I’ve been in Chicago since ’05. But I’m still a Californian at heart, I suppose.

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I did my undergrad at University of California-Irvine.

I recently earned my MFA from University of Iowa in dance with a focus in choreography. Prior to that I worked as the director for a company in Chicago called Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater, and another company, Lucky Plush Productions, where I was a dancer and the marketing and communications manager.

Were you ever undecided, and/or did you change majors?
I knew that I was going to college, I just didn’t know what it was for, or what I was going to college for. I think my senior year I applied to 10 schools. Each of them for essentially a different major. But I’d always dance. I’ve been dancing since I was five, and in high school it became really important to me. I applied to one school as a dance major, which was UC Irvine. When I went to campus for the audition, I really fell in love with the campus itself, and the department. It was probably in high school that I knew I was going to dance. I didn’t know in what capacity that was going to be.

I thought I was going to be a commercial dancer, and that I would be in LA being in music videos and that sort of thing. It wasn’t until college that I discovered concert dance. I’ve really just been centered around that for the last 20 years or so. I moved to Chicago two weeks after I graduated from UC Irvine, and it’s where most of my professional work has been, though I’ve done some international work too. More than anything I’ve been based in Chicago where there’s so much access to world class dance, and collaborators from virtually every field.

How did you know you wanted to teach?
I started teaching company classes for the companies that I was dancing in, and that’s really where I got my start teaching. I’d taught kids before, like junior high and high school students at various studios. When the opportunity came for me to teach company class, I jumped on it because I knew what the dancers needed in order to get through their day. It was fun to prepare classes that were geared towards the needs of professional dancer.

I started teaching company classes there. I got asked to teach open classes, professional studios, and then summer intensives, and various programs all over the country while I was dancing with Lucky Plush. We toured quite frequently. I would teach master classes for the various universities that we were performing at, some of our residency activities. That was really my first introduction to teaching in a higher ed type of setting.


Marc Macaranas is an assistant professor of dance in the School of Theatre and Dance.