North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Auroris Dance Company presents Serenity

Annaliisa Ahlman
The Auroris Dance Company performed their annual show called Serenity on Jan. 25-27.

Through Jan. 25, 26, and 27, Auroris Dance Company presented their annual showcase, this year’s name being Serenity. The show displayed 23 dances choreographed by both students, guest choreographers, and Niles North’s very own Baile Club, all packed with a wide variety of style, culture, and meaning. Each piece seemed to be a crowd favorite, as every single time the lights dimmed, meaning the end of the piece was near, the crowd cheered with adoration and surprise.

However, the crowd especially enjoyed the community piece, where crowd members were invited on stage to have fun and participate in a beginner-level dance choreographed by Anna Copeland. In addition to the student choreography that made up the majority of the show, there were also dazzling pieces choreographed by guest artists like Marcus Ambubuyog, Keena Shah Salwan, and Kiersten Vollmer. The amazing light and sound work mixed with the mesmerizing dance made the event incredibly memorable and a favorite of the viewers.

Most students know Auroris from their performances at pep assemblies, but few know the inner details about the company, like the work it takes to put together their annual show or particular information about some of the individual dancers or their instructors.

In 1965, Aurois began as a dance club here at Niles North; after 59 years, it has developed into a student-choreographed dance company open to all who have a talent and a passion for dance. Auroris is led by Niles North dance teacher and the artistic directors of the Auroris Dance Company, Annalisa Ahlman and Abigail Stachnik. Ahlman, who has been teaching since 2009 and began leading Auroris in 2021, saw Auroris as an opportunity to foster an environment where students can be introduced to different genres, like hip-hop and cultural-style dances, that most schools don’t have and to ultimately find a home in dance. Ahlman’s favorite part of Auroris is the way the group grows so cohesive over the course of the year. She loves how the group really becomes like a family and comes together to create a spectacular show. She also loves the variety of pieces and different kinds of energy viewers are able to see on stage during the show.

Senior Amy Huynh, who is also a captain, has been dancing for 12 years and joined Auroris during her freshman year. She says she loves the home Auroris fosters and celebrates each dancer’s passion for dance. Her favorite part of the show is the week that precedes it, also called Tech Week. She thinks it really brings the company closer together and creates more bonds as a result of the long hours spent together. Amy also enjoys how all the love and hard work is reflected in the final product.

The process of putting together the show begins in August, after auditions, with the presentation of pieces dancers would like to put forth in the show. Following that, the dancers then decide which pieces they would like to be a part of, and the schedule is worked out by Ahlman as she tries to accommodate everyone’s schedules to the best of her ability. The season officially began on (insert date) and doesn’t technically end until the end of the school year, but the practices become much less frequent following the show.

“I love being a part of the crew, and I participate in any opportunity to help. My favorite part of working on the show was making connections with the dancers.”

— Assistant Stage Manager and sophomore Marcus Gahm

From then on, the company practices three times a week, sometimes more depending on the circumstances, as they start putting together each piece, slowly building to the show. During that time, the company also hosts various team-bonding activities that help them grow and come together as a group. As the show nears, practices become more frequent and longer. Throughout tech week, dancers practice until 10 p.m. and perfect each dance. Even though the hours are long, many dancers say it is still super fun because of the people who surround them during those times. Especially during tech week, dancers form stronger bonds with each other and practice important skills like the ability to balance their schoolwork while still focusing on the show.

Auroris’ annual show wouldn’t be possible without the people making sure everything runs smoothly backstage. Alumni Dan Friedman, who is a professional lighting designer and works in various theaters and operas around the country, designed nearly all of the lighting show. Adults like him allow students to take part in managing backstage. Firstly, there is a stage manager overseeing the whole show and calling light and sound cues up above from the booth. In addition, there are assistant stage managers who help dancers backstage by making sure they are prepared and ready for the next piece. There are also students who partially designed the lighting and ran the light and sound board, which is a huge part of making the dance really come to life. In addition to the dancers putting in the work during tech, the crew also put in tons of hard work by rehearsing each of their cues, rolling the marley on stage, and positioning every single light on stage.

“I love being a part of the crew, and I participate in any opportunity to help,” Assistant Stage Manager and sophomore Marcus Gahm said. “My favorite part of working on the show was making connections with the dancers.”

Needless to say, without the talented crew and all of the adults that helped put together the show, Serenity wouldn’t be half as amazing as many crowd members report it to be. Just because Auroris’ show season has ended doesn’t mean they stop doing things. During the springtime, they perform at school and community events, travel to perform at various events, and plan to audition and (hopefully!) perform at places like the Illinois High School Dance Festival. They also do workshops in the spring and summer months that give the community even more opportunities to see them in action or get involved with the inclusive company known as Auroris.

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About the Contributors
Lolah Slagg, Reporter
Lolah is a sophomore at Niles North and this is her first year on North Star News. In her free time she enjoys playing soccer, reading, or hanging out with friends.
Ivan Shalaev, Reporter
Ivan is a senior at Niles North. Ivan is a part of six music ensembles at school and is also involved in theater.

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    Cynthia FeyFeb 3, 2024 at 4:30 pm

    What an amazing show! Thank you, dancers, choreographers, and backstagers for all your hard work! Every number, from the light-hearted to the serious, was a joy to behold. “Boss” and the green light number that ended the first act stand out in my mind, but I’ll never ever forget the community number “Dancing Queen”! Thank you for including amateur dancers and welcoming us to the stage!