Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dance Students Practice Philanthropy

Each year, a group of undergraduate dance majors from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance collaborate with art and music students, as well as community artists, to produce an event known as "Art for Life." This event is a fundraiser for the Chicago chapter of Dance for Life. This past school year the event took place on December 7, 2013 at Huntley Middle School in DeKalb
We're very pleased to announce that the event raised a significant amount of funding. Above is a photo of
Anthony Guerrero, producer of Dance for Life Chicago, receiving a check in the amount of $2,000.00 from
Maggie Priore, senior dance major (graduated May 2014) at NIU and coordinator of Art for Life. Maggie was able to present the check to Anthony on June 5, 2014.

Congratulations to Maggie and all the NIU arts students who helped make this fundraiser such a success!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dance Instructor Earns Continued Notoriety

Autumn Eckman, instructor of dance in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, has been extremely busy lately and has earned several kudos for her recent work:

- Autumn was recognized by Dance Magazine for women in choreography

- She was named as one of Chicago's "Top 50 Players in the Arts" by NewCity Publication.

- This past March, Autumn choreographed the premiere of "Mist" for the Giordano Dance Chicago in collaboration with Chicago choral group " Bella Voce"

- This summer and fall Autumn is serving as Artist-In-Residence with the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara for the creation of the full length ballet "Scheherazade," for their 20th anniversary season

- Autumn's 2013 Work "JOLT" (Giordano Dance Chicago) was selected to be performed in Dance For Life, August 16, 2014.

- Autumn was selected as dancer in a new work by Ron De Jesus in  Lar Lubavich's Chicago Dancing Festival, August 22, 2014.

Congratulations, Autumn!

School of Art Impacts Camp Power

Camp Power has been a new-for-2014 endeavor between NIU, the City of DeKalb, and several other important local entities, working with 600 children who live in University Village. As part of the wide variety of activities available, NIU School of Art and Design instructor Eric Fuertes and graduate assistant Allen Moore helped the campers create a comural. At the end of the project, the campers received a tour of the School of Art.

Camp Power participants creating the comural

Camp Power participants touring the School of Art

In September, the comural will be donated to the City of DeKalb at a City Council meeting. Thank you to Eric and Allen, and Congratulations to everyone involved!

Theatre Professor Directs Chicago Premiere

(photo by Ron Goldman)

Kay Martinovich, recently appointed as Assistant Professor in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, has directed the Chicago premiere of Down Range by Jeffrey Skinner, which opened last Thursday, August 7, in Chicago.

Genesis Theatrical Productions, in conjunction with National Pastime Theater, is presenting the Chicago premiere of Down Range, a raw and touching play that revolves around the high cost of multiple deployments for two military families. The year is 2009 and two combat soldiers return home from Iraq following an IED attack on their vehicle. Down Range depicts the soldiers’ inability to ever leave the war behind, and the ripple effects this has on their families, friends, and ultimately on an entire community.

Down Range runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at 7:30 pm from now to August 31 at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Avenue, 4th Floor, in Chicago, Illinois. NIU folks joining Kay in the presentation of this production are professor Brandon Wardell (lighting design), and students Ashley Greenberg and Collin Lindgren (co-lighting designers).

The show has received a couple of terrific reviews. Chicago Theatre Review says "The real sacrifices made by men and women in the military, and particularly those involving loved ones, is virtually unknown to most private citizens. Career soldiers seem to be their own breed of animal, belonging at once to their close-knit military band of brothers, but also part of their own civilian families waiting back home. The quandary and personal struggle over which family should dominate a soldier’s life is told in a series of scenes and monologues that add up to a powerful look at one of society’s unknown elements."

And this review from Chicago Stage Standard specifically features Kay: "Award-winning poet and playwright Jeffrey Skinner has written a moving and powerful drama about the men who devote their career and their lives to the military. He exposes the addictive nature that the army’s family holds over these individuals and illustrates how war is wagered, not only in foreign lands but in the men’s personal lives, as well. Kay Martinovich’s production presents all the right elements…"

Perhaps the most meaningful "review" is this one: Kevin Barszcz, President of Chicago Veterans, came to see the show this past Sunday night, and had this to say about it: "Down Range is a must see, not only for the Veteran community and spouses, but for civilians as well. The actors are some of the best I've ever seen, I felt like I was back in the military, at times it was almost too real. Get a first hand feel for life in the military, from the commitment to the sacrifice, this play will leave you wanting to see it again and again."


Monday, August 11, 2014

NIU Racks Up Several Art Awards

Congratulations are in order for several NIU School of Art and Design folks, both current faculty and alumni, for their selections as one of this year's 2014 Illinois Art Education Association Award Winners!

Illinois Art Educator of the Year: Alumna Deyana Matt
Higher Education Art Educator of the Year: Professor Dr. Kerry Freedman
Distinguished Service in the Profession of Art Education: Alumnus Joseph Hernandez
Presidents Award: Alumnus Chris Grodoski


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ensemble in Residence Releases First Commercial Recording

We're proud to announce that Cor Cantiamo, NIU School of Music ensemble-in-residence (, and Founding Artistic Director Eric A. Johnson, will be celebrating their first commercial CD with Centaur Records with an official release in the United States and Canada on Tuesday, August 12. The album will be available internationally on all of the major download and stream sites, as well as on the various classical specialty sites.

The recording, Canticum: The Choral Music of Jaakko Mantyjarvi, features sacred and secular repertoire including Alarum Bells which was commissioned by Dr. Johnson and the NIU Choral Program.

This album was crafted through the combined work of NIU faculty, alumni, and internationally acclaimed artists. It was  produced by award-winning composer and producer Donald Fraser, and recorded in partnership with the composer (Jaakko Mantyjarvi) participating  in the recording sessions that occurred on the NIU campus in the summer of 2013.

Cor Cantiamo is a touring chamber choir in residence at Northern Illinois University, founded with the mission to perform and promote contemporary choral music and foster new composers for the art form. Since their founding in the spring of 2009, the choir has emerged as an energetic and accomplished vocal ensemble, receiving accolades for their performances. In their inaugural year, Cor Cantiamo performed with Morten Lauridsen, who praised the ensemble for presenting “choral artistry at its finest.”

Art Faculty Members Curate Show in Chicago

NIU School of Art and Design faculty members Michael Rea and Geoffrey Smith curated a show in Chicago, entitled "Ugly Smile." The exhibit is an investigation of humor, and is at the Peanut Gallery through this coming Sunday.

Mike and Geoff were able to include works by current NIU art students as well as work by NIU art alumni. There is a nice review of the show in The Chicagoist.

Congratulations to Mike, Geoff, the students and alums!