Photo: Danielle Diniz
Jazz Choreography Enterprises hosted the Honors Program students of Quinnipiac University’s minicourse, “A Signature Experience in Jazz Dance,” for a master class in jazz vocabulary, choreography and history on Sunday, October 22nd, at Pearl Studios in New York City.
A fully interactive experience made exciting by Co-Artistic Directors Marian Hyun’s and Merete Muenter’s abundant energy and commitment to the craft started with an introductory warm-up. After Hyun’s thorough explanation of diﬀerent elements required to preliminarily prepare the body to dance, she introduced some key steps and phrases iconic to the art and that would be incorporated in her upcoming combination. Hyun’s choreography seamlessly brought together a lesser-known version of the Charleston and many fun “boogies” along with turns and chances to explore stylization. The students were concentrated, invested and looked forward to adding on more material.
Muenter came to the front of the room with something funky and fun, set to the Austin Powers movie soundtrack. She challenged them to pick up fast and try steps they may not have known before, while explaining each passage clearly and repeatedly, which made it accessible for all.
The students previously all had diﬀerent exposures to “jazz” and found the information provided in the lecture portion illuminating as to the genre’s inception and how choreographers of all backgrounds can, have and will interpret it today.
A few of them generously shared their thoughts.
“I liked that lecture portion of the class. I believe it is extremely important to not only experience Jazz but to learn about it too. This created a larger appreciation, interest, and understanding. Without knowing the history of Jazz dance the importance of it fails to truly sink in,” noted Jackson Giurichich.
Jacqueline Wiegard agreed, “The lecture portion of the class was informational. The videos that were shown enhanced my understanding of how jazz dance is/was expressed through diﬀerent time periods and cultures. Learning about the historical context did add to the dance class experience. It made me have a better understanding of why we were doing the certain steps that we were instructed to perform.”
Since 2016 when this educational collaboration began, the participants have been subsequently invited to attend JCE’s Jazz Dance Project performance, which is a wonderful opportunity to see all that has been discussed in the classroom in action and as diverse, tangible representations of what jazz means today, to diﬀerent artists. They seemed to find it not only additionally informative, but engaging and excitingly versatile.
“The class furthered my appreciation of the performance because I felt the emotion and culture portrayed in every dance. There was one dance, I still cannot get out of my head, and it was with the dancers dressed in red and I believe the choreographer’s name was Cory. I felt every emotion in the room with that performance and one that made me fully understand the impact of dance,” Brittany O’Connor-Wolfe said.
“I could see the feelings and influence of cultures through the performances, and I think I noticed it more because I learned about the history of jazz dance before watching the performance. It also seemed like every dancer had a reason for dancing the way they did, which I really appreciated,” Rachel Krokosky responded.
“In one of the readings, I remember viewing an image of a tree representing the numerous branches of Jazz dance,” added Gabriella Kryoneris. “Various branches of that tree were made clear through watching the performance. Visually seeing the variability of Jazz created a deeper appreciation for the performance within me, as the history and basis of Jazz allows artists to reveal their individuality and dance without constraints.”
Danielle Diniz has been commissioned to create new works for Jacob's Pillow, Performance Santa Fe, Avant Chamber Ballet, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Ballet Hartford, Central Utah Ballet and was a choreographer for DanceBreak 2020. She is a winner of the New York Dance Project Choreography Competition and her work has been shown in Jazz Choreography Enterprises showcases and the Steps Beyond Foundation performance lab, among other festivals. Danielle is also a Junior Board Member of Jazz Choreography Enterprises. B.A., Cornell University.