Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Uberti: Fusion Dance Company looks to bring attitude this weekend

7:30 on Tuesday evening. I’m sitting alone in the back of Tech Auditorium-the room’s lights turned low-and two dozen dancers from Fusion Dance Company are scattered about the rows of seats, changing into costumes, checking Facebook and casually stretching their legs over their heads.

This was one of the last dress rehearsals for NU’s premier hip hop dance crew before the opening of its spring show, “Toyz,” slated for Friday night. A senior dancer at the front of the auditorium grabbed a microphone.

“Are all you guys wearing sneakers?” she asked, her voice echoing over the room’s speakers.

It was the type of question that would catch you off guard in any other place or time. Shortly after it, the dancers finished what they were doing, filed up to the stage and began a full run-through of their two-hour show.

“You get into Fusion and they say, ‘You need to buy new shoes,'” freshman Brynn Samp told me earlier. “You feel stupid if you come to the show and you don’t have kicks on. It’s a rite of passage.”

See, Fusion takes its sneakers seriously, and for good reason. In a way, its performers’ brightly colored kicks symbolize exactly what the company is all about: energetic, aggressive dancing that reaches out to crowds, makes them feel comfortable and nearly forces them to collectively bob their heads to the music.

And for the dancers, that’s what it’s all about.

“There’s a lot of energy behind it that gets people fired up,” Samp said. “You just completely lose yourself when you’re up there. The lights are on your face and you can’t see anything in the crowd. It’s just you dancing to the music. Then people cheer-and that’s the best part.”

Soon after the dancers filed on stage, Gene Kelly’s “Singing in the Rain” came over the speakers. The curtains-now doused in bright, blue light-opened. It revealed Fusion dancers in formation, dressed in pajamas and capes, standing in front of a simple set plastered with images of G.I. Joe and Marvel Comics.

“The show is just a collection of things you would find in a toy store from when you were a kid: toy soldiers, Barbies and Pokemon,” sophomore dance major Alaya Turnbough said. “Just whatever brings people back to their childhood.”

But soon after “Singing in the Rain” faded out, the music selection-and the dancing-lost some of its innocence. “Toyz” is Fusion’s 8th annual spring showcase, Artistic Director Laura Gilbert told me. And it’s more about “Barbies gone bad” and “heroes and villains” than anything else.

“We’re a pretty unique show,” Gilbert said. “We actually don’t stop dancing ever. We have no blackout in our lights. From our opening routine to our final routine…it’s just constant.”

The first 15 minutes of the dress rehearsal swayed me to stay longer. And the second 15 minutes did the same. For a show that is both student-choreographed and produced, Fusion’s is no joke.

But the most impressive part? The looks on the dancers’ faces. Even with only one spectator in the crowd, these performers wanted it…whatever it is.

“We love when people are in the audience who get up and dance and shout at us,” Gilbert explained earlier. “It’s an adrenaline rush. It flies by. You do a three-and-a-half minute routine and it feels like two seconds.”

After one more song-Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” to be exact-I stood up from my seat and strode out of the auditorium, only one thought on my mind.

I might need to get myself a pair of those sneakers.

David Uberti is a Medill sophomore and DAILY web editor. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed at twitter.com/daviduberti.

Watch the video below for a story about the 2009-2010 Fusion Dance Company:

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Uberti: Fusion Dance Company looks to bring attitude this weekend