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Graffiti Dancers and Tonik Tap unite to present Beyoncé’-themed ‘Graffoníks 4’

The+ensemble+of+%E2%80%9CGraffon%C3%ADks+4%E2%80%9D+strikes+a+pose.+The+performers+are+comprised+of+members+from+Tonik+Tap+and+Graffiti+Dancers.
The ensemble of “Graffoníks 4” strikes a pose. The performers are comprised of members from Tonik Tap and Graffiti Dancers.

The ensemble of “Graffoníks 4” strikes a pose. The performers are comprised of members from Tonik Tap and Graffiti Dancers.

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

The ensemble of “Graffoníks 4” strikes a pose. The performers are comprised of members from Tonik Tap and Graffiti Dancers.

Jane Recker, A&E Editor

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While deliberating on a theme for the fourth-annual “Graffoniks” show, Graffiti Dancers’ co-artistic director Alana Rosenbloom jokingly suggested the idea of centering the collaboration around Beyoncé’s album “4.”

“Anybody who knows me knows I’m obsessed with Beyoncé,” the Communication senior said.

After discussing the idea with the entire group, what began as a comical brainstorm became the theme for this year’s “Graffoniks” show. On Jan. 19 and 20, Graffiti Dancers and Tonik Tap will join forces to present “Graffoníks 4,” a blend of contemporary and tap dance centered around the music of Queen Bey.

Rosenbloom’s brainchild was conceived during a casual conversation with a Tonik Tap member about potential themes, Rosenbloom said. “Graffoniks” last theme, 3-D, had paid homage to the third year of the collaboration, so Rosenbloom said the groups wanted to do something similar for their fourth show.

“We were coming up with stupid puns like 4ever, and then we were like, ‘Oh my god, Beyoncé’s album 4, that’d be hilarious,’” Rosenbloom said. “We were kind of joking about it, but then we brought it to the rest of the members and they were like, ‘Wait, that’s going to be awesome!’”

“Graffoniks” began four years ago as a friendly, casual collaboration, Rosenbloom said. She noted that with a history of shared friendships and members performing for both, a joint performance seemed natural.

Weinberg senior and Tonik Tap artistic director Sterling Harris said each consecutive show has been more polished and refined than the last, and that the groups have a strong bond and look forward to working with each other every year.

“It’s like a family reunion,” Harris said. “It’s like getting to be with this extended family, which is Graffiti Dancers for us, and work together on every aspect of the show to make it a true collaborative effort.”

The two groups feature contrasting dance styles. Graffiti Dancers — the oldest dance group on campus — focuses on contemporary dance such as ballet and jazz, while Tonik Tap is eponymously tap-focused.

Graffiti Dancers co-artistic director Megan Conlon said while these dance styles are different, both groups have been able to inspire new ideas by incorporating techniques from the other group. Conlon said she was excited by the new choreography that emerged when working on the senior dance piece.

“Seeing what people come up with is incredible, especially when you put the two different styles together,” the Communication senior said. “Tonik has taught us a lot about hitting different rhythms that we never would have thought of or heard in the music.”

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer
Members of Graffiti Dancers perform a leap during a dance number. “Graffoníks 4” will be performed in the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 19 and 20.

While neither group restricted their choreographers to only using Beyoncé’s music in their pieces, much of the performance will feature her work, Conlon said. Her music will make up the entirety of the “jams” segments: short, improvisational pieces between the choreographed numbers, Conlon said.

Of course, no Beyoncé-themed performance would be complete without the rousing, key-changing song “Love on Top,” which will be used for the finale, Rosenbloom said. She said the final number is her favorite part of the entire show, which she’s most looking forward to perform.

“(When) we learned the finale, I was smiling all the way home!” Rosenbloom said. “We took some choreo from the music video, and it was so much fun for everyone to be together. It’s going to be an awesome way to close the show.”

Email: janerecker2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @janerecker

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