By Marian Hyun
On May 15, 2016, JCE took the New York Jazz Choreography Project to the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House as part of the Second Sundays Performance Series. The series provides high quality, affordable live performances for the community served by the Neighborhood House on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, though all are welcome to attend. The performance featured work by Jazz Project choreographers Lisa Biagini, Erika Black, Jeff Davis, Rachel Leigh Dolan, Tony Fraser, Svetlana Khoruzhina, Cat Manturuk, Sue Samuels, Jaime Shannon, and Alan Spaulding; Marian Hyun and Merete Muenter, Artistic Directors.
After the performance, Merete Muenter led a question-and-answer session with the choreographers and dancers.
An audience member directed his question to the choreographers, noting that it takes a great deal of time, work, and effort to choreograph a dance. “What do you get out of all the work you put into choreographing?”
“You start out with a fantasy, a dream, an idea,” said Sue Samuels. “It is a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you see the fantasy turn into reality through the dancers and the music.”
Swing dancer Jaime Shannon responded to a question about who makes the adjustments when they perform in various venues. She explained both she and her partner, Tony Fraser, make adjustments, since they perform in many venues of various sizes with different kinds of floors. They might have to eliminate some lifts on slippery floors or adjust their movements in small spaces.
Tony Fraser said he was happy to perform in the Jazz Project dance concerts because he loves to share his style with other audiences—he and Jaime Shannon usually perform for fellow swing dancers—and he loves to watch the great work of the other choreographers.
“Do you steal from each other when you watch other choreographers work?” asked Merete Muenter. Many of the choreographers nodded as she explained she will often take ideas from choreography she has admired to use in her own work, but it comes out in a different way from the choreography she “stole.”
“We all do that, but we end up with something unique because we add our own personalities,” said Sue Samuels, “It’s like a diamond with many shiny facets. A jazz diamond!”