Jazzfest to swing into action next weekend

Photo Courtesy of Ursinus College Communications

The music and dance departments worked together to create Ursinus’s first Jazzfest

Erin McKinney


Students and faculty will have a unique opportunity to hear some contemporary jazz music within the next few weeks.

This year, for the first time in Ursinus history, the departments of music and dance are coming together to create Jazzfest, an interdisciplinary showcase of one of America’s signature styles of music and dance.

The festival will be held over the weekend of April 28 and 29 and will showcase various “pop-up” performances from both student groups and professional performers alike.

This event has been wholly organized by students with the aid of professors and other Ursinus staff, and has received funding from the U-Imagine Center. The students in the History of Jazz and History of Jazz Dance classes have been coming together once a week throughout the semester to help plan Jazzfest.

There are “teams working on public relations materials, helping us with facilities planning and technical support, designing Fest merchandise, and more,” according to Dr. Holly Hubbs, professor of the History of Jazz course.

Skye Gailing, an anthropology and American studies double major and member of the History of Jazz class, is on the technical support team. She discussed the many benefits of a course like this, citing “artrepreneurship,” a term created by Hubbs and Dr. Karen Clemente of the dance department.

Hubbs explains that “artrepreneurship” combines the skills of an artist with those of an entrepreneur.

“In today’s competitive job marketplace, artists of all kinds need to be business-minded in order to succeed,” said Hubbs. “Skills such as public relations management, digital marketing, contract legalities and other business skills require those in all areas of the arts to be business- minded in order to succeed.”

The event promises to be memorable, as the student performers are being showcased alongside Philadelphia musicians Diane Monroe, Tony Micelli, and Ira Bond and professional choreographer Jeannine Osayande. Student performers include the Ursinus Jazz Ensemble, directed by Hubbs, UCDC, featuring works from Dunya Performing Arts Company, and student choreographer Donnay Burden.

When asked what she most looked forward to about Jazzfest this year, Gailing said she was excited for the student jazz ensemble concert which will be held outside of the Kaleidoscope and  how fest goers will be encouraged to sit on the grass surrounding the venue to listen to the hard work and talent of the student musicians. There will also be accessible seating for those who may have trouble sitting on the ground.

Hubbs, who has been continuously involved with a jazz band since she was in seventh grade, thinks that jazz goes beyond just the music.

“[I love] not just the improvisation in the music, but the larger aesthetic of spontaneity and risk-taking,” said Hubbs.

This is partially why she looks forward to seeing how the students who coordinated the event actually execute it.

“As in any major [event] planning scenario, things will arise, forcing our students planners to troubleshoot and improvise,” she said.

To those who may be intimidated by the genre, Hubbs says that this is a great opportunity to learn more.

“There should be nothing scary about jazz; you have to be willing to put yourself out there and take a chance by trying,” said Hubbs.

Students will have the opportunity to put themselves out there and attend Jazzfest on Friday, April 28 to Saturday, April 29. More information can be found at https://www.ursinus.edu/academics/music/jazzfest/.

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