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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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Dance Digest: Northwestern dance groups get into the groove in ‘Graffoniks Gets Groovy’

Madeline King/The Daily Northwestern
Graffiti dancers stunned audiences with incredible technique in their contemporary dances.

Northwestern dancers dazzled in the Wirtz Ballroom on Friday and Saturday with mesmerizing leaps, turns and time steps in “Graffoniks Gets Groovy.” The dynamic performance had something for everyone — everything from upbeat to introspective numbers.

The annual Graffoniks show featured performances by student-run contemporary dance group Graffiti Dancers and TONIK Tap, a student-run tap group. The show was entirely student produced, with all school years and a variety of majors represented. 

While TONIK Tap impressed with crisp and clear sounds –– not an easy feat for a group that large –– it was clear that routines from Graffiti Dancers definitely stole the show.

The Wirtz Ballroom was packed full of audience members, with overflow seating spilling onto the floor. Friends of performers screamed encouragingly during numbers and yelled to tell dancers they loved them breaks from the action.

Dances took the audience on an emotional journey. 

The show featured choreography to intense songs with hard-hitting beats like “Desperado” by Rihanna, heartbreaking lyrics like “Death By A Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift, and fast-paced, electronic beats like “Speed Drive” by Charli XCX.

The opening act was titled “Eat Your Young,” choreographed by co-Artistic Director of Graffiti Dancers and Communication junior Kalliope Kobotis. The dance immediately commanded the audience’s attention, featuring the full company of Graffiti Dancers. The group created stunning pictures through striking choreography and highlighted dancers in flawless turn sequences. 

Lighting Designer and Communication sophomore Sam Bessler intensified the emotions evoked by the performances with lighting perfectly tailored to each number. 

Deep reds and backlighting created silhouettes added even more soulful imagery to more dramatic numbers. Cyc lighting against the back wall exhibited vibrant pinks, purples and rainbow effects, creating a striking atmosphere for the performance’s peppy and uplifting dances. 

The Wirtz Ballroom echoed with laughter during “Mistake Tap,” a piece choreographed by Communication junior Joshua Messmore and Weinberg sophomore Mary Kate Tanselle, featuring members of TONIK Tap. The tappers danced to the Nintendo Wii theme song but feigned confusion as modern pop songs interrupted the music. Messmore even pretended to yell at Bessler, who was operating the sound and lights, to fix the track, and Bessler played along, pretending to mess with the sound equipment. 

Graffiti Dancers took the cake for the most impressive numbers. The group’s technique was breathtaking, and dancers moved seamlessly in their choreography. Dancers created gorgeous lines as they achieved great height in jumps. Their facial expressions also stood out over that of TONIK Tap, which could have improved in a few numbers. 

The Graffoniks show featured four jams, in which a select group of dancers showcased their talents one by one. The jams allowed for tap and contemporary dancers to showcase their favorite skills, with the most impressive being a calypso leap from a Graffiti Dancers member and a walking handstand from a TONIK Tap member.

Seniors made up the cast for the final jam, giving special recognition for dedicated dancers during their last Graffoniks show. Leadership from both dance groups presented senior dancers with flowers during the curtain call of the final performance.

The show commenced with a performance of the Shim Sham, an iconic tap dance. All Graffiti Dancers and TONIK Tap members joined together and invited the groups’ alumni to the stage to partake. 

With the remarkable visuals created by Graffiti Dancers and the synchronous click-clack of TONIK Tap’s tap shoes, “Graffoniks Gets Groovy” proved that there can be a perfect collaboration between two unlikely styles of dance. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @madelineking_18

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