Annual Big Band Dance a hit at Wallace State

Dancers enjoy the annual Big Band Dance at Wallace State. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – “It’s about keeping the big band music of that era alive,” Wallace State Music Department Director and director of the college’s Jazz Band, Ricky Burks, said Friday evening, when the school hosted its annual Big Band Dance.

“The other universities around, when they do jazz band, they do more ‘stylistically’ jazz-type music, more east coast-west coast-type jazz, and they don’t dig a lot into the old traditional big band literature. That’s one of the things that we do here is try to keep that particular music alive. It gives our students the opportunity to play that, and when they go on to university they’re going to play the other style of music, so it makes them more well-rounded.”

Burks said he’s grateful for the community’s support of the annual event.

“We’ve got a pretty good dance group here in north Alabama, so we usually have a pretty good crowd. Community support. That’s the whole thing is that we’re very lucky and very blessed to live in a community that is very supportive of the arts. Our administration is very supportive of the arts. It’s the building that we’re in; you know our president and administration are very pro arts, so we’re very blessed in that. That’s the reason we’ve been doing it for so long and why our department is very successful.”

Wallace State Concert Band Director Jacob Keisler echoed Burks, sharing,  “This is a yearly dance that we do and it’s just to expose the students to jazz history, really, and to provide them a ballroom dance setting…for the kids to kind of get a feel for what it would be like to play an actual dance gig.”

Jazz Band member Stephanie Kennamer smiled, “I feel amazing; this band I love is like my family. They always want me to become a better player and they have helped me transition into a great musician and I love it.”

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