By Keri Hayes
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The University of Arizona has gained national recognition for its annual Jazz Dance Showcase, and this past weekend's performance revealed that the dance department's efforts are certainly worth the praise.
Organized by the student organization Dancers' Consort, the Jazz Dance Showcase featured an extraordinary performance at Centennial Hall Friday night, along with two invitational performances Saturday and Sunday. Three hundred dancers from around the nation came to learn from jazz dance pioneer Gus Giordano, this year's special guest artist.
The annual Jazz Dance Showcase began three years ago when the jazz program was a new addition to the UA dance department. Not many other universities have jazz programs, so the showcase attracted national attention, said Michalene Cardella, dance department administrative assistant. The showcase is the dance department's biggest fundraiser, although it was not intended as such when it was conceived, Cardella said.
This year's Jazz Showcase, "B Seated," astounded the audience with pulsating music and contemporary choreography by faculty members and other artists. The performances were all playfully developed around the idea of being seated, whether on benches, chairs, stools or sofas. The dancers incorporated furniture into their choreography so fluidly that the objects seemed to pulse with life as well.
One performance, "Loose Stool," even featured a stool that made its way rythmically across the stage. Choreographed by UA faculty member Michael Williams, the performance's erotically outfitted dancers burned up the stage dancing to C+C Music Factory. William's "Bon Appetit," a French impressionist-inspired piece, was also performed beautifully by seven women in bright, flowing costumes.
Clarissa Valdez performed a humorous jazz interpretation of morning waking rituals in "The Wake Up Call," with music from B.B. King and Bob James.
UA faculty member Susan Quinn presented her "Vocalisthenics" series, which blew the audience away with athletic performances accompanied by Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma's musical conglomerations.
Ballet faculty Jory Hancock and Melissa Lowe graced the stage with their piece, "Lixa's Afternoon," an engaging exploration of timeless longing.
The most entertaining piece of the night was a crazy jazz exercise choreographed and performed by Sam Watson of WATS on DANCE. His costume resembled a reptile, while his hyper antics came together to form an outstanding performance in "Gargoyle," with music from House of Tribal.
"B-Seated" delivered a packed audience at Centennial Hall more than an hour of innovative and impressive dance.
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