Big Band Ballroom Dance Swings Through Wallace State

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Sharon Schuler Kreps
The singers and the jazz band are a more select group of students; they go through a tryout process just to get into the group. Both of those are kind of what we call flagship ensembles; they are the ones who are always out in the public sight representing the college, so we maybe hold their standards a little higher.”
Ricky Burks, jazz band director

 

 

HANCEVILLE – On Friday, April 15, the Wallace State Jazz Band held its annual Big Band Ballroom Dance in the atrium of the Burrow Center for the Fine and Performing Arts. People of all ages came out to enjoy the lovely music and dance the night away. It was the perfect way to spend the evening after a long work week.

“We do the Big Band Ballroom Dance each year as a fundraiser for our spring trip,” said Ricky Burks, the band’s director and head of the Wallace State Fine and Performing Arts program. “We are not going anywhere this year, but it is a fundraiser for this ensemble so they can do different things during the year. To the best of my knowledge we have held this event for the 25 years that I have been here. I’m not exactly sure when it first started. Sometimes we incorporate it as an Alumni Band, which is always fun.”

The Wallace State Jazz Band is an extremely talented group of students. But what do we really know about them? Burks was gracious enough to take a minute during the break to tell us all about them.

“The Jazz Band is an auditioned group; it’s a select ensemble,” Burks explained. “Our concert band and our concert choir are both mass ensembles that anyone that has playing or singing experience is able to be in. The singers and the jazz band are a more select group of students; they go through a tryout process just to get into the group. Both of those are kind of what we call flagship ensembles; they are the ones who are always out in the public sight representing the college, so we maybe hold their standards a little higher. It’s a mixture of music majors and non-music majors. We’ve got folks in there that are nursing, engineering, everything. So it’s a cross section of students.

“The jazz band has traveled all over the world. We’ve been to the Bahamas, Montreal and all over the United States,” he smiled. “They’ve played both coasts. We just finished our 14th performance at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. We’re not members of the Jazz Hall of Fame, but we do have a listing on the wall. I guess you could call it recognition by the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.”

The WSCC Jazz Band and the WSCC Singers work well together. The entire music department is considered to be a tight-knit group. The students take pride in what they do and each group supports the other. Many of the singers were in attendance Friday night and it was obvious they had a blast!

“This is awesome! We came to the dance last year, too,” said Haley Johnson, one of the WSCC Singers. “The jazz band has been working on this for, I think, for a year. I think it’s a fundraiser so it’s awesome to support them because they supported the singers last year so we are supporting them. They are doing so great! Plus, it’s fun to dance!”

Catch the jazz band next at The Homegrown Music Festival at WSCC on Saturday, April 30. For more information, visit http://qrne.ws/homegrown.

For a full photo gallery, see http://qrne.ws/bigband.