While listening to music, many people unconsciously begin bopping their head or tapping their toes to the beat of a song.
Rhythm and movement go hand in hand, which inspired Brad Fuster, chair and associate professor of music, to invite dancers to perform at various concerts throughout the semester. On Wednesday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m., the Jazz Ensemble concert will feature Latin jazz dancing, performed by dancers from Buffalo State, in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall. This concert is free and open to the public.
"The audience bops and taps to the music all throughout the concert," said Joy Guarino, assistant professor of dance who choreographed previous concerts. "When the dancers perform, the audience literally begins moving and dancing in their seats! It brings a different energy to the show."
"I met with Dr. Fleming, the Jazz Ensemble director, and we decided to put the coursework for my jazz dance class and his jazz ensemble together,” said Carlos Jones, assistant professor of theater and dance. "This experience gives the dance students the opportunity to work with live, authentic jazz music."
Dancers don’t often have the opportunity to rehearse or perform to live music. "It's a challenge because it's different each time," Guarino said. "The tempo may be a little faster or slower, or they'll hear a sound that they never heard before pop out at them."
Adding visual and auditory cues helps the dancers and musicians stay together during the concerts. "They have to really watch and listen to each other," Guarino said. "It's a whole new awareness."
The dancers and musicians also learn to share the performance stage. "I have to know where the students are dancing during the planning process of the show so I know how many of my students can fit on the stage," Jones said.
In previous collaborations, the musicians entered the stage dancing and the dancers used instruments as props. "They had fun watching each other trying to do each other's art form," Guarino said. "They gain a new respect for one another."
The first music and dance collaboration took place in 2009, when Fuster asked Guarino and Jones to choreograph a piece for the percussion ensemble concert.
"Brad was setting a John Cage piece on his percussionists," Guarino recalled. "Cage had a longstanding personal and professional relationship with Merce Cunningham, a distinguished dancer and choreographer. So Carlos and I tried to stay true to Cunningham and Cage in the choreography."
"The collaborations give the students some historic background and context," Jones said. "The history and live music provides another aspect of expression."
Guarino added that this opportunity inspires students to continue growing as artists. "It can open up student-driven collaborations," she said. "They find an exciting new energy in performance and in their art form. It's inspiring."