LILLY HALL AFTER DARK | Students stay long after the lights go down

As the sun set on Thursday, Lilly Hall was bubbling with activity. Musical scales and melodies echoed outside the practice rooms on the second floor, classes were wrapping up in the ensemble rooms on the first floor, and the Butler Theatre was alight with people preparing for a week of tech rehearsals.

“[Lilly] is my place of solace,” said sophomore dance major Elizabeth Simoens, adding that she likes to dim the lights of the dance studios at night and dance improvisatorially alone or with a pianist.

“It’s like playtime,” she said, smiling.

Lilly Hall is full of creative energy during the day. It is the home of the Jordan College of Fine Arts as well as the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, American Pianists Association, Dance Kaleidoscope and other arts organizations.

As the night set in on Thursday, Lilly Hall began to change.

Thursday 9:30 p.m.

The basement is eerily empty. The only sounds echoing off the walls are my footsteps. Two girls chat in the lobby by the Butler Theatre on the first floor, where rehearsal for this week’s opening is ongoing.

Thursday 9:47 p.m.

A group of men in suits, all awaiting initiation into Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, sing together in the “old Lilly lobby” on the southwest corner of the building. They hold the red books given to all initiates, which contain the history and meaning of the organization.

James Caleca, sophomore music education major, was initiated into the men’s music fraternity on Thursday evening. He laughed and said that he and his fellow initiates decided it would be “a good idea to prance around Lilly Hall serenading girls” before the ceremony. Judging by the smiles on the audience, they were right.

Thursday 10:37 p.m.

Photo by Reid Bruner

On the third floor, Simoens works with a group of instrumentalists on a music and dance collaboration piece. Simoens commissioned this work from graduate composer Brian Spicklemire for a performance at a student choreography showcase next year, but it will be premiered on Saturday at Spicklemire’s composition recital. The dance is also on tomorrow’s Composers’ Orchestra concert  but without Simoens.

Using  Laban scales as a foundation, Simoens said she plans to weave her movements through the sounds of the instrumentalists, picking out musical “asides” to emphasize in order to avoid repetitive flowing movements. She has also developed a thematic movement, crossing all spatial axes, that will tie the piece together.

Thursday 11:22 p.m.

The second — floor music practice rooms are largely empty. Viola, piano and trumpet music floats down the corridors from various directions. A music student is asleep in the old lobby.

Friday 12:55 a.m.

After rehearsal, a group of theater students watch an episode of AMC’s television show “The Walking Dead” in the theater design lab.

Friday 2:22 a.m.

The last musician leaves her practice room and heads home for the night. The fluorescent lights in the hallways buzz, awaiting the sunrise and the influx of students for morning classes.

The metal door locked behind me, and the crisp air enveloped me as I left the building in the small hours of Friday morning, surprised and inspired by the mix of diligence and light-heartedness that is Lilly Hall after dark.

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