UI students bringing live performance back to Champaign-Urbana

by Shelbi Voss

For over a year, live events across the nation have been postponed or canceled. The fear of large crowds coming together raises concerns about the spread of COVID-19 due to the number of audience members, performers, crew members and more. But in Champaign-Urbana, University of Illinois students are coming together to find safe ways to showcase their talents for live audiences.

Illini N Motion held their Spring 2021 showcase “The Masked Dancers” on April 18. Throughout the semester the team struggled finding a space to practice, as university buildings have strict regulations about capacity and aerobic exercise. The dancers worked together to keep an eye out for safe ways to continue the rehearsal process leading up to their off-campus show.

Although the showcase is traditionally performed in Foellinger Auditorium, their executive board decided on an off-campus location to allow for more dancers sharing the stage at one time and for a higher number of guests to see the show in a safe space. Every dancer and audience member was required to wear a mask throughout the duration of the performance. Sophomore Jernie Saunders noted that, although dancing with a mask proved very difficult, it was worth it to be able to perform live.

Cast members of Illini Student Musicals’ production of Little Women perform as the titular March Sisters. The show is based on Louisa May Alcott’s well-known novel about the four passionate sisters.

Due to the limited audience capacity, the show was also livestreamed on YouTube. It was the first time the team performed a showcase in over a year. Having the show was very special, as for some, it was their last. Numbers featured in the showcase are available on their YouTube page at Illini N Motion.

Illini Student Musicals also hosted guests for a live performance at Lincoln Hall last weekend. Their Spring 2021 musical “Little Women” was also performed for a combination of in-person and virtual audience members. Although they hosted a showcase last fall, this production was the first full musical performed by the organization since their Fall 2019 show “Carrie: The Musical.”

This weekend Velocity Dance Team will hold their Spring 2021 showcase “The Greatest Show on Campus.” While a limited number of friends and family will be welcomed to the performance space, others can view the performance on Facebook Live this Saturday at 7 p.m.