Boston University School of Theatre and Dance Program Present Aurora Borealis 5: A Festival of Light and Dance

Contact: Jean Connaughton, 617-353-7293 |

Boston – The Boston University School of Theatre, in collaboration with the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, presents the fifth annual Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Light and Dance. Co-directed by Judith Chaffee and Micki Taylor-Pinney, this year’s production will feature student work from the Boston University Dance Theatre Group, as well as collaborations with faculty, lighting designers, choreographers, actors, and musicians from the School of Theatre.

Over the past five years, this festival has evolved into a four day contemporary dance festival featuring seven choreographed works that emphasize the interactions between dancers and light:

Erica Altschul, a junior physical therapy major at BU, presents Clash to music by The Fifth Element. Her dance represents a battle between ballet and hip hop, two movements that only find resolution when they fuse to become one.

Judith Chaffee, Associate Professor of Theatre and Movement Coordinator at the BU School of Theatre, and Ulrike Präger, a graduate student in the BU School of Music, are collaborating with lighting designer Ryan Conneally and sound designer Alex Neumann to create If Any Such Space Exists, a fusion of light and dance. The dance is an ensemble piece constructed through improvisations with light, movement, text, and voice, performed by eleven actors from the School of Theatre.

In Still Life, choreographer Matthew Grierson, a second-year student at the BU School of Medicine, uses abstractions of movement generated from his work shadowing physicians at a rehabilitation hospital last summer. The piece, set against the ominous backdrop of Ravel’s Le Gibet, begins with six dancers in casual unison, adding layers as individual dancers break away from the group, exploring momentum and gravity.

Choreographed by Michael Jahoda, Meeting Points is a collaborative experiment that gently scratches the surface of the endless possibilities of a few simple ingredients; a circle, a square, and a set of movement phrases. These ingredients are torn apart, slammed together, and thrown around the space to highlight a series of fixed meeting points.

Ibrahim Miari’s Sufi and Sacred Dances is based on two traditional sacred dances. Sacred Dances are 5000 year old dances originally used as holy rituals by priests and priestesses from the Far East and Central Asia, and aim to bring about a higher state of consciousness and awareness. Sufi is a meditative technique performed by whirling dervishes in which the dancer/meditator continuously whirls around until he’s in a state of elation. Sufi and Sacred Dances features dancers from the College of Fine Arts with mystical texts by Sufi poet Rumi, Jalal al-Din and original music from the Acco Theater Center’s Prayer.

Margot Parsons, BU ballet faculty member and prominent Boston choreographer, has created a ballet influenced by readings on the String Theory, titled “And So It Goes” to music by Evan Ziporyn. It will be performed by four dancers from the Margot Parsons Dance Company.

O is for Optimist is a whimsical piece for nine students by Micki Taylor-Pinney, director of the dance program at BU. It begins with a reading of the definition and, in a series of vignettes, the dancers continuously and desperately reach for their elusive aspirations. In addition to Ms. Taylor-Pinney’s work at BU, she was also an artistic director of Dance Collective from 1998 to 2006, and is now director of Mass Movement, Inc., which provides educational outreach in the schools and after-school programs through the statewide arts organization Young Audiences of Massachusetts.

The Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, founded in 1954, is one of the country’s leading institutions for the study of acting, stage management, design and production, and all aspects of the theatrical profession. Since 1982, the School of Theatre has enjoyed an educational and artistic collaboration with the Huntington Theatre Company, the professional theatre in residence at Boston University. Other professional theatre affiliations include Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Guthrie Theater, Olney Theatre Center, Pendragon Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Notable School of Theatre alumni include Jason Alexander, Michael Chiklis, Geena Davis, Faye Dunaway, Stewart Lane, Julianne Moore, Brad Oscar, Wynn Thomas, and Alfre Woodard.

The Boston University College of Fine Arts was created in 1954 to bring together the School of Music, the School of Theatre, and the School of Visual Arts. The University’s vision was to create a community of artists in a conservatory-style school offering professional training in the arts to both undergraduate and graduate students, complemented by a liberal arts curriculum for undergraduate students. Since those early days, education at the College of Fine Arts has begun on the BU campus and extended into the city of Boston, a rich center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity.

Dance at Boston University: Along with the movement and dance component of theatre training in the School of Theatre at Boston University, an extensive program of dance and movement courses is housed within the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in the new Fit/Rec Center on Commonwealth Avenue. Through the Physical Education Program, students, faculty, and staff may choose from a wide selection of dance genres, ranging from the beginning to the advanced level. These courses are taught by accomplished instructors, all of whom have professional affiliations in Boston. This past year, enrollment in dance courses numbered 1700. Boston University supports numerous dance organizations, including the Dance Theatre Group, directed by Ms. Taylor-Pinney. A Dance minor is offered through the School of Theatre in the College of Fine Arts.


Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston

Tickets: $10 general public; $8 BU alumni, Huntington subscribers, students, senior citizens, and WGBH members. BU community: one free ticket with BU ID at the door, day of performance, subject to availability.

Box Office: online at, by phone at 617-933-8600, or in person at the Boston University Theatre box office.


Presenter: Boston University School of Theatre and Dance Program

Event: Aurora Borealis 5: A Festival of Light and Dance

Dates: February 15-18, 2007

Location: Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts527 Tremont Street, Boston

Tickets: $10 general public; $8 BU alumni, students, and senior citizens; members of the BU community receive one free ticket per BU ID at the door on the day of the performance, subject to availability.

Description: The fifth annual collaboration between the School of Theatre and the Boston University Dance Program, featuring world premiere dance and movement pieces by choreographers Erica Altschul, Judith Chaffee, Matthew Grierson, Michael Jahoda, Ibrahim Mairi, Margot Parsons, Ulrike Prager, and Micki Taylor-Pinney. Co-directed by Judith Chaffee and Micki Taylor-Pinney.

Box Office:; 617-933-8600

Performance Schedule:
Thursday, February 15 at 7:30 PM
Friday, February 16 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 17 at 8:00 PM
Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 PM