Evanston Dance Ensemble to take audiences on “space odyssey”


Source: Matt Glavin

Evanston Dance Ensemble originally presented “Space Odyssey: the solar system in dance” in 2001. The ensemble will reprise the show March 14 through 17 in the Josephine Louis Theater.

Andrea Michelson, Arts and Entertainment Editor


When Béa Rashid (Communication ’78) visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, all she saw was dance. The exhibits about space travel and the solar system made her consider movement, she said, inspiring a space-themed dance show that premiered in 2001.

Evanston Dance Ensemble will reprise “Space Odyssey: the solar system in dance” March 14 through 17 in the Josephine Louis Theater. The show features 11 dances that represent each planet, the sun and the asteroid belt, as well as a finale that brings together the entire Milky Way.

Rashid, the founder and co-artistic director of Evanston Dance Ensemble, said the ensemble performed the show in 2001 and 2007, and they’re bringing it back due to popularity and a timeless interest in space.

“Our fascination with space and time, and the growing concerns about our own planet and sustainability keeps us human beings interested in what’s out there,” Rashid said. “And I think the further out we get in the solar system, and the more information that’s sent back to us, the more interested we stay.”

Rashid said there is new knowledge about space each time the ensemble performs the show, which sometimes inspires changes. Between the first and second performances, Pluto “was demoted” to a dwarf planet, she said, though she decided to keep the Pluto dance in the show.

Steve Rashid (Bienen ’83), Béa’s husband who composed the music for “Space Odyssey,” said the show starts at the sun and moves outward through the solar system. The show includes a dance about the asteroid belt, originally titled “Small Bodies,” that was adapted this year for a more mature group of dancers. Steve Rashid composed a new work of music for “Comets,” a dance that has never been performed before.

“It’s a totally different take on it,” Steve Rashid said. “The beginning of the piece sounds like nothingness all around you … Off in the distance, you’re aware of something approaching, and it gets bigger and bigger and when it hits you, it carries you along like a big party bus in the sky.”

Steve Rashid said it’s a “real joy” to see the music he composes physicalized on stage. He said he collaborates with the choreographers to create music for the dances, sometimes even composing the music after the dance is blocked out.

Christina Ernst, co-artistic director of Evanston Dance Ensemble, said working collaboratively with Steve Rashid was a “luxury,” as she prefers to choreograph in silence and have the music written afterwards.

“When I was choreographing Pluto and Saturn, I did not want any music in the beginning,” Ernst said. “I just wanted to work in silence, feel the universe … (It was) just me working in space.”

Ernst said though the choreography is now almost 20 years old, it feels timeless. This year’s production also features new lighting and projection design to bring the production to life, she said.

Kara Roseborough, an alumna of Evanston Dance Ensemble, is looking forward to performing “Mercury” in this year’s show. The solo piece is usually performed by a male dancer, she said, so she was able to bring her own nuances to the role.

“They’ve done it a few times, but every time there’s something different about it,” Roseborough said. “Obviously every new set of dancers bring their own unique artistry to it. So even though it’s a set show, it’s really exciting to bring our version of it to the Evanston community.”

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