“Metaphysics of Jazz” choreographed by Cat Manturuk. Photo: Jan La Salle

On Sunday, November 8th, Jazz Choreography Enterprises hosted a digital fundraiser entitled Jazz Dance: Show & Tell. Moderated by Matt Pardo, dance artist and Assistant Professor of Dance at James Madison University, the event showcased pieces by JCE alums that had been recorded at previous performances, followed by interviews with Pardo.

The first piece presented, “Everything Scatter,” was recorded at the April 2019 JCE Jazz Dance Project. Choreographed by Fréyani Patrice, Artistic Director of IFE The Movement, the piece features dancers between the ages of six and eighteen. It’s an upbeat dance that draws heavily from West African dance traditions.

Patrice spoke about Jazz Choreography Enterprises and said that the opportunity the company provides “is very rare” and that dancers and choreographers need it for more exposure. “We’re gonna be a part of it as long as we can,” she said.

Swing dancers Jaime Shannon and Tony Fraser, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Kilowatt Dance Theater respectively, choreographed “Back in the Day,” recorded at the April 2016 JCE Jazz Dance Project. Shannon described this lindy hop duet as “a sheer expression of our partnership with ourselves and that piece of music [‘Things Ain’t What They Used to Be’ by Count Basie].”

Fraser spoke about how his experience with JCE changed how he approached dancing. After coming from a social dance background, he needed to adjust to the performance aspect of dance. “When I started dancing with you guys, I started dancing differently,” he said, citing his ability to learn steps faster and visualize pieces better.

The final presentation was of Cat Manturuk’s “Metaphysics of Jazz” from the October 2017 JCE Jazz Dance Project. It’s an ensemble piece in Manturuk’s signature style of mod-hop-jazz that features elements of swing dancing and hip-hop.

Interspersed with the performance presentations were testimonials from choreographer Matt Couvillon and dancer Tovi Wayne, who spoke about how the opportunity to present and perform in JCE shows helped their careers.

Professor Melissa Kaplan from Quinnipiac University spoke about the annual jazz dance class JCE provides as an opportunity for Honors Program students at the school. Abby McCreath, Founder and Executive Director of Groove With Me, spoke about working with JCE as well and the way that JCE provides both dance classes and the chance to attend its dance concerts to students of the organization.

At the end of the night, there was a live Q&A session moderated by Matt Pardo with the featured choreographers and JCE artistic directors Merete Muenter and Marian Hyun. The topics were varied, and the participants spoke on issues from how to progress with dance through the Covid Era as well as what the latest election results might mean for arts funding.

While we continue to deal with Covid pandemic, Jazz Choreography Enterprises will be holding digital events into 2021. Stay tuned to our newsletter or check in on our website to learn the latest information about all of our upcoming digital classes and performances.

Josh Harris

Josh Harris

Josh Harris is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. He also writes fiction under the name J. Young-Ju Harris. He does not dance particularly well.

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