New Movement Project broadens horizons of Northwestern dance community, hosts Fall Dance Concert and Jazz Nutcracker


Photo courtesy of Sophie Teitler

New Movement Project aims to be an open space for dancers to grow.

Jamie Kim, Senior Staffer

Communication and McCormick junior Katie Hocker was first introduced to the New Movement Project through Flux, NMP’s regular improv night. After performing in the NMP Jazz Nutcracker last year, Hocker got more involved in the group and is now NMP’s treasurer. 

NMP aims to enrich and enhance Northwestern’s dance community, through hosting classes and events like the Fall Dance Concert and Jazz Nutcracker. It also helps produce the Senior Dance Concert, a show choreographed, produced and performed by senior dance majors for their final project. 

Communication senior Dana Small, a producer for FDC, said one of the show’s goals is to provide an inclusive space for dancing and choreographing. FDC aimed to accept all choreography petitions and auditionees for its show on Nov. 18 and 19. 

Hocker said the FDC rehearsal process is a collaborative experience and provides opportunities even for cast members without performing experience.

Hocker is a producer for the Jazz Nutcracker, which will premiere Dec. 2 and 3. The show features dancers performing to Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite” and includes improv from both the dancers and the musicians.

For the Jazz Nutcracker, Hocker said the team works to set previous choreography on new dancers, while other pieces are rechoreographed. Hocker, who also choreographed for FDC, said she considers images the music inspires, the song’s musical queues and the dance’s meaning during the process.

“As I’ve continued choreographing, and also as I’ve continued teaching it to my cast members, (my initial idea) has really developed and blossomed into something much more in-depth and much more evolved from what it started as,” Hocker said. 

Communication sophomore Sophie Teitler performed in last year’s Jazz Nutcracker. This year, she is one of FDC’s producers. 

Teitler said her Jazz Nutcracker experience was a helpful starting point to her dancing journey at NU. Prior to the performance, she had never danced to live music. 

“I think that’s the big thing to embrace — being able to have that relationship between the dancer and the musician,” she said.

NMP’s classes and workshops do not require prior experience and provide a space for NU students to grow, Teitler said. Last spring, a professional instructor led a contact-improv workshop. 

Improv can include dancers performing with or without music, Small said. It can also be completely from scratch or according to short prompts, such as “walking through Jello” or imagining bugs crawling on one’s body, she added.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to learn (improv) not in a classroom environment where someone is giving me a prompt that I have to follow,” she said. 

Weinberg senior and NMP President Amelia Haag said the group’s programming integrates a range of dance styles, including modern, jazz and hip hop. As someone mainly trained in ballet, she said the project has enabled her to perform in dances outside her comfort zone. 

Haag said many arts communities, including dances, were affected by limited opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Haag said NMP is hoping to get shows “back up and running” and is always open to new members. 

“We’re really trying to … get people excited about dance at NU,” she said. “I hope that we’re able to grow even more and host more things, and we’re able to reach new people.”  

Email: [email protected] 

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