The JCE JAZZ DANCE PROJECT
The JCE Jazz Dance Project is a celebration of jazz dance featuring original works by emerging and established choreographers. Audiences of all ages will be treated to dances in a variety of jazz styles, from swing to contemporary, and the chance to see the richness of this great American art form.
Saturday, October 27, 8:00 pm – a benefit reception follows the performance
Sunday, October 28, 4:00 pm – a talkback with the choreographers follows the performance
Marian Hyun has studied jazz and ballet in New York with Luigi, Bob Audy, Ed Kresley, Shirley Bassat, Julia Dubno, and wonderful teachers in Paris, France, Susan Sparks and Frédéric Lazzarelli. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she was a freelance writer and a writing instructor at the New School before enrolling in the Dance Education Lab (DEL) at 92nd Street Y. Since then she has taught dance to people of all ages, from two-year-old pre-ballerinas to senior citizen jazz buffs in various New York studios and community centers. She has choreographed for the New York Jazz Choreography Project, Choreographer’s Canvas, the Fridays at Noon Marathon at 92nd Street Y, and the Comedy in Dance Festival at Triskelion Arts. In May 2007 at New Dance Group, Marian produced the first performance of the New York Jazz Choreography Project, a showcase devoted to jazz dance. It sold out. Subsequent performances of the Jazz Project have been produced semiannually by Jazz Choreography Enterprises, Inc., a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization established in 2007 to promote the creation of original jazz choreography. Marian is the president and co-artistic director of Jazz Choreography Enterprises.
Merete Muenter is a founding member and co-Artistic Director of Jazz Choreography Enterprises. Choreography credits: Off-Broadway – Fiddler on the Roof - In Yiddish (Assistant Choreographer – Director, Joel Grey), The Golden Bride (Chita Rivera Award Nomination), Amerike – The Golden Land, The Megile of Itzik Manger, and Lies My Father Told Me (The National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene), Eddie and the Palaceades (Midtown International Theatre Festival “MITF”), The King of Second Avenue (New Repertory Theatre), South Pacific (Lancaster Opera House), Sherlock Holmes – The Early Years (New York Music Theater Festival). Director/choreographer credits: The Bridges of Madison County (American Theater Group), Chicago, The Who’s Tommy and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Woodstock Playhouse), They Walk Among Us (MITF – Award for Best Choreography), Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd (Lancaster Opera House). Assistant Director credits: World AIDS Day Gala (Capetown, South Africa), Jesus Christ Superstar (European Tour – Director, Baayork Lee).
INSPIRATIONAL JAZZ DANCE ARTISTS
We thought you might enjoy seeing some videos of dance artists who influenced and inspired some of our choreographers in this production of the JCE Jazz Dance Project.
When I was creating “Opus 10”, I used it as an opportunity to explore different ways of partnering and improve upon my skills. Unfortunately, more classical jazz partnering was something I never learned due to a lot of factors (one being my size, and another being the fact I always wanted to be Cyd and not Fred). I watched many videos from old movie musicals to learn lifts and tricks, and this scene with Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire in “The Band Wagon” is one of my favorites. It truly is a masterclass in elegance, classical lines, and using dynamic movements to tell a story. You’ll see a lot of these elements in the work paired with different styles of partnering such as Lindy Hop and Contemporary, and given a 2018 spin by playing around with who gets to be the leader.
In college I had the pleasure of seeing “Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal” live. Their performance single handedly inspired years of my choreography. It was the first time I had seen organic contemporary movement seamlessly blended with jazz musicality and musical theater story telling in a concert dance setting. Seeing their performance gave me the confidence to explore blending my love for jazz dance with my passion for creating unique pieces of art on stage.
I had heard “Tilted” by Christine and the Queens before, but what made me really love the piece was seeing it performed live at Coachella – the artist and the dancers performed the same choreography from the video. I love the androgynous style of the dancers and the playful quality of the choreography. The movement choice highlights the quirky musicality and is purely entertaining because of its light, almost slapstick-like, quality. I try to capture the same fun and unexpected qualities in my work!
Jaime Shannon and Tony Fraser
A lot of the movement in this piece is inspired by Dean Collins. Dean Collins was an American lindy hop dancer/choreographer and innovator of swing dance. He worked on 38 films throughout the 1930’s and 40’s in LA. Collins developed a specific smooth style of lindy hop that is featured in a majority of his films. His signature style is often still referred to today as “Hollywood style Lindy Hop.” When we were developing the content for our piece, we played a lot with the smooth, stretchy, counterbalanced technique that defined Dean Collin’s style.
Many times, when I choreograph, I have an iconic performer or choreographer or time period that I’m excited to explore. So, I research, research, research for weeks–even months–as the start of my process. “Doin’ My Jazz” was the opposite for me. Last winter, I wanted to do a new work, and I needed to MOVE and shake off winter! James Brown’s “And I Do Just What I Want” is a song that I’ve used for years to get my jazz dance artists to move in ways that are loose, groovy, free and brave. So I took the music and went into a studio and “Doin’ My Jazz” flew out of my body! Though I wasn’t focused on particular themes or moves, 1960s social dances and James Brown’s iconic shaky legs infused themselves on my movements. I’ve never had an experience choreographing that spontaneously! Later, I refined a few moments and referred back to James Brown videos to accomplish a more tributary version of his free, expressive, energetic amazingness in moments of the piece involving shaky legs. But “Doin’ My Jazz” is a self-portrait of my soul’s calling out to me to do my thing.