The ‘Aurora Borealis’ Lights Up BU Dance Theater

December 7, 2011

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The audience waiting for the show to start.

The audience waiting for the show to start. | Photo by Liishi Durbin

Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Light and Dance is a creative collaboration between students of the College of Fine Arts, School of Theatre and the students of the Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Program.The festival was founded on the basis of extending opportunities to both of these diverse groups of students. The students of the theatre program in the CFA, who generally work within play productions, were given the enriching opportunity to design and manage lighting for dance and movement pieces. Moreover, many students from the School of Theatre performed in the pieces as well. The performance on Tuesday, December 6th marked the first decade of this collaboration.

The show took place in the Boston University Dance Theater (915 Commonwealth Ave.) to nearly a full house of eager people, ranging from students to parents to professors. Aurora Borealis collected choreography from an array of sources, including the Dance Theatre Group, the School of Theatre’s Lighting and Composition Course, and the Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Department’s Movement Improvisation course. Lasting a little over an hour, Aurora Borealis features six separate projects, including a striking adaptation of “Abyss of the Birds,” the difficult clarinet solo from Quartet for the End of Time by French composer Olivier Messiaen.

Dancers sit in front of the stage as the audience takes their seat.

Dancers sit in front of the stage as the audience takes their seat. | Photo by Liishi Durbin

While each piece had its own theme and tone, the binding factor was the rich display of the interdependent relationship between light and form. In one piece entitled “the ones like me only see what i see,” the lighting becomes more erratic and strange as the dancers break off from the pack one by one in perfectly synchronized choreography. In another piece entitled “Perspectives,” a flashlight-like light turns on and off, each time illuminating the same two dancers in a different pose.

Regarding the difference between the demands of movement/dance and the demands of dramatic performance, sophomore Olivia Haller of the School of Theatre says, “For me, every moment had to be filled with energy and it was never just about the technique but about the piece.” This energy definitely shows through. Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Light and Dance was an electrifying show exhibiting everything from elegant and whimsical to eerie and terrifying.