By Josh Harris
Jazz Choreography Enterprises, Inc. held its annual spring concert on April 9th and 10th at the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance. There was a good variety of jazz dance styles represented at the show with choreographers bringing life to older forms of the art as well as pushing the boundaries of what jazz can be through its fusion with other styles.
The piece “eat Crow” by Barbara Angeline, a tribute to Josephine Baker, harkened back to the early days of jazz dance with dances and costumes from the 1920’s.
The duets “Back in the Day,” by Tony Fraser and Jamie Shannon, and “Romantic Moonphase,” by Jeff Davis, were also both able to capture a classical jazz feel, though in different ways. Fraser and Shannon presented a Lindy Hop style piece bringing swing to the stage, while Davis’s piece was more reminiscent of musical theater.
Rachel Leigh Dolan’s solo piece “Fever,” which also drew on classic jazz movements, was performed by Dolan’s former student, Hannah Jennens.
There were several pieces that showcased the different ways that jazz has been combined with other styles.
Bob Boross’s aptly named “Fusion” featured balletic movements, as did “2am, Dance with Me” by Bill Hastings and Chet Walker, which had a nice section where the dancers mimicked barre exercises.
Other pieces like Svetlana Khoruzhina’s “The Back Up Vocal Business” and Kyle Weiler’s “You’ve Got Me” showed a combination of jazz with some modern dance style movements. “Blackbird,” by Sue Samuels, was an especially striking piece that had a similar combination of styles. In it the lead dancer was carried by or walked on the backs of fellow performers so that she never touched the ground.
We saw more modern adaptations of jazz dance like “Mr. Brightside,” by Lauren Blue, which had poppy choreography to match the song, as well as the hip-hop oriented “Into the Gait,” by Cat Manturuk and her Dance Cat-alyst company.
The show closed with two rousing ensemble pieces, “The Rhythm of Life” by Crystal Chapman in the style of Bob Fosse, and “Run Love Run,” a dramatic contemporary work by Tiffanie Carson.
Following Sunday’s performance there was a talkback where Honors Program students from Quinnipiac University who were participating in a class about the history of jazz dance were able to ask questions of the choreographers. This led to a discussion about jazz dance, its history, and how it might evolve in the future. To learn more about the talkback, you can read an article here.
You can read the great review of the April 2016 Jazz Project by Marsha Volgyi in broadwayworld.com.
Check out our Links page (scroll down) to see videos of jazz dance artists who inspired some of the choreographers in the April 2016 Jazz Project.
You can view photos from the performance here.
Choreographers: Barbara Angeline, Lauren Blue, Bob Boross, Tiffanie Carson, Crystal Chapman, Jeff Davis, Rachel Leigh Dolan, Tony Fraser & Jaime Shannon, Bill Hastings, Svetlana Khoruzhina, Cat Manturuk, Sue Samuels, Chet Walker, Kyle Weiler
Artistic Directors: Marian Hyun and Merete Muenter
The choreographers for the April 2016 New York Jazz Choreography Project were chosen by a jury composed of the Artistic Directors and Joyce King, Cat Manturuk, and Jaime Shannon.
All of JCE’s programs are made possible in part by contributions from our corporate sponsor, Salon Ishi.