Video: Behind the Scenes of How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? — Northwestern magazine "Senior Watch" honoree Katie Spelman and theater professor Rives Collins talk about the spring show. See more videos from Northwestern News.
When Katie Spelman recalls choreographing for campus productions, she remembers spending late nights in the studios of the Theatre and Interpretation Center. Oftentimes she was alone — with the hardwood floors, mirrors and the art of dance.
Spelman has choreographed dozens of campus productions and dances and directed Cabaret and the 2009 Dolphin Show, The Wizard of Oz. Though she remembers practically sleepless nights while taking stressful classes, she says it was all worth it to see her visions on stage.
"Those moments of being overwhelmed are microscopic compared to the grandness of each show when it all comes together," she says.
Spelman, a film major with a certificate in musical theater, says the love of her life is choreography.
She trained in Russian ballet throughout high school, four or five days a week for four or more hours a day. While she figured out she did not want to be a ballerina, her training gave her the experience to choreograph anything from ballet in the 2008 Dolphin Show, Carousel, to pieces for the Graffiti Dancers, a Northwestern dance ensemble. She believes she found her way to theater through a side door.
"I was always a dancer first, so that's where that kind of started," she says. "I got involved with the arts in any way, shape or form."
When student producers and directors for the 2007 production of Company were searching for choreographers during her sophomore year, Spelman thought she could lend a hand. Though she choreographed for Graffiti Dancers, she had never done any work for a show.
"Choreography has a lot to do with the way paths intersect and go apart from each other, and that's also what's interesting about people," she says. "Those two things are what theater is made of."
Spelman, a South Side Chicagoan, hopes to stay in Chicago after graduation in order to gain theater experience before going to graduate school to study directing.
Associate professor of theater Rives Collins says he doesn't know what to expect from Spelman, since she has shown great passion for both choreography and directing.
"When choreographing, she makes shows accessible to the people on stage and can make them look good even if they aren't dancers," Collins says. "When casting, she can see things in actors that most people would miss."
Collins believes Spelman has contributed to the theater community at Northwestern with her ability to engage others in a show and her unique artistic visions. He expects her to do the same on Broadway, in film or whatever art form fits her path best, he says.
— Christina Rosales (J11)