ENMU Hosts Big Band Dance

The Chase photo: Marilyn Upchurch

On Friday, Oct. 4, the Department of Music at Eastern New Mexico University put on the “Big Band Dance” in the Campus Union Building from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. This event featured the ENMU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Richard A. Schwartz. Attendees were able to swing the night away with live jazz music and listen to their favorite hits from the ‘30s.

Annabelle Rangel, a performer at the event, said the event is a great way for the ENMU Jazz Ensemble to showcase what they have been working on. “There's hardly any other dances that the University puts on so this is a special event, because the Jazz Ensemble gets to go out there and display all of their hard work to the community,” said Rangel. “It’s a lot of fun because you don’t see swing dancing as often in our society anymore.”

Taylor Bassing, another performer at the dance, said it’s a great music event for the community. “It’s a lot of fun; you get to dance and listen to music. It only happens once a year for Eastern,” said Bassing. “Since we don’t have any other events like it, that’s what makes it unique.”

The Jazz Ensemble starts coordinating the event a year in advance, because they must work out a date that works between the Department of Music and the CUB Ballroom schedules. “Instrumental auditions are held at the beginning of the fall semester and four collections of jazz ensemble arrangements are subsequently distributed. Then, the 21-student instrumentalists begin preparing the three hours of music in rehearsals and via private practice outside of rehearsals,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Vocalist auditions are held a few weeks before the dance, and several student singers are selected to perform with the Jazz Ensemble at the dance.” The ensemble consisted of 21 ENMU instrumental students and two vocal students who have gone through the rigorous audition process.

The price to attend the dance was $5 and all donations go directly to help pay for the spring Jazz Fest. “The Big Band Dance has been going on for at least 10 years and the dance is an important event because it is challenging in this part of the country to see a live Jazz Ensemble,” said Dr. Schwartz. “We not only need to support our students and their endeavors, but have some fun.”

Carmen Valadez, a student at ENMU, said that she had been to the dance before and had a lot of fun. “It’s nice to get out of my dorm and come dance and see other people dancing and having a good time.” Atessia Petteway, another student at ENMU, said that she loves to attend because it gives the community a chance to listen to all the pieces the Jazz Ensemble has been working on.

Logan Aragon, a student majoring in music education, music performance and music technology, and has been in the ENMU Jazz Band for five years, said that the event is only possible because of the hours of rehearsal and practice each student puts in. “It’s kind of bittersweet for me, because normally the big band dance was hosted in Clovis, so we had that historic significance right on main street in the State Theatre,” Aragon said. “That’s kind of what makes this a lot livelier. I miss the aesthetic, but seeing everyone out having a good time and seeing a bigger crowd is really fun.”

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