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A swing-era band plays while couples dance

Battle of the bands

From M, spring 2005

The School of Music's Jazz Ensembles I and II will feature a swing-era Battle of the Bands on the stage of Ted Mann Concert Hall on the Twin Cities campus April 7 and 8. Admission is free.

As these two ensembles try to outplay each other with hits from the 1930s and 1940s, University dance program students will fill the stage with specially choreographed swing dancing, including the popular Lindy Hop and even tap dancing.

The show will not be an entirely spectator event--at the end of the evening, audience members will be invited to join the dance students on stage to hop, swing, and jitterbug their cares away.

"Big Bands were like rock stars--fans knew all the arrangements and the soloists," says dance program professor and choreographer Zoe Sealy. "We're going to capture the essence of how everyone went crazy over the bands, not only through the dancing, but through how the dancers react to the music."

Learning about the movement of that period can be challenging for the dance students. "They're used to hip-hop and funk. [With swing dancing] there's the earthiness of being connected to the floor and a partner," says Sealy. "There was romance and intrigue in that dancing that isn't found today."

The music will include many familiar standards, but also a few surprises taken from the libraries of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Fletcher Henderson.

For more information on the Battle of the Bands, including directions to Ted Mann Concert Hall, call 612-624-5740 or see School of Music (News and Events).

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