The anticipation, excitement, adrenaline and excellence of RUSH kept captive the attention of the audience during every dance. Northwestern students participated in many different dances to showcase skill and entertain campus. In order to better handle COVID-19 cautions, there were videos intermixed with the live dances.
RUSH 2020 was abruptly ended before it could showcase. However, they did videotaped many of the 2020 dances. In a moment of brilliance, the RUSH managers decided to include the RUSH 2020 video dances alongside RUSH 2021 live dances. This decision did not in any way degrade the production. Upperclassmen students were able to see graduated peers and the shows had people happily hollering at the projected dancers as if they were live.
Dance styles included hip hop, lyrical, modern, tap and interpretive. It had groups ranging from two to twelve dancers. The one outstanding difference from last year to this was the tech work put in by lighting designers and stage manager, Sierra Tumbleson. With an entirely new wall to wall projection system, the images were sharp and showed that there was little use of lighting of color or background in the 2020 show. There was not one in-person dance that did not use light colors, light patterns, fog, background, spotlight or strobe lights to accompany their pieces.
Amie Uithoven and Moriah Wittenberg’s piece “Brother” involved ten dancers painting a raw picture of a friendship that endures time and distance, joys and hardships. The line, “And when you’re in the trenches / And you’re under fire, I’ll cover you” was emphasized by camo light patterns from above that colored the stage floor.
Lisa Li and Riley Rasmussen’s “Hip Hop” was backlit by strobe lights and rotating images that highlighted the tutting and flips. The entire piece had the crowd wanting to dance along. Instead, they all just whooped and hollered from their seats.
Angela Wintering’s “Rolling Stones” included choreography from American Sign Language in the moves and patterns. The contrast of darkness and light, death and lifeproved to be a very powerful show.
Then came “People’s Faces” choreographed by Kiley Meeder and Jessica Rogers. The spoken word of Kate Tempest was magnified in the dance moves the choreographers chose. The poetry spoke into this past year’s situation, and our world’s future saying, “There are no new beginnings / Until everybody sees that the old ways need to end.” The piece relied on Tempest’s words alone to impact its audience with no extra lighting.
Allison Wheeler’s “Survivor” was RUSH 2021’s last dance. It roared that this year the campus, community, country and world would not stop no matter the circumstances. Each dancer had flashlights on their wrists that shone a message of hope and resilience. Fog, strobelights, and colored lighting assisted in its mission. The crowd’s uproar at the end assured the dancers that their message was received, loud and clear.
“We are not just celebrating dance moves,” said the voiceover at the RUSH competition. “We are celebrating hard work. Together.” Though each choreographer chooses what they wish to showcase without a set theme, each chose a dance with the dance undertone of resilience. They tell the stories of this past year’s collective impact. It was a free place to express the pain, triumph, oppression and hope found.
“RUSH is a place where you can express yourself without being judged,” said Becky Donahue, RUSH producer. “It is a place where you can tell stories and have a voice. It is a place where we can support one another no matter what.”