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BWW Feature: CORONA CHOREOGRAPHIC CHRONICLES ~ PAT TAYLOR, JAZZANTIQUA, & THE MOVEMENT IN THE MUSIC: A DIGITAL Jazz Dance Showcase

BWW Feature: CORONA CHOREOGRAPHIC CHRONICLES ~ PAT TAYLOR, JAZZANTIQUA, & THE MOVEMENT IN THE MUSIC: A DIGITAL Jazz Dance Showcase

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BWW Feature: CORONA CHOREOGRAPHIC CHRONICLES ~ PAT TAYLOR, JAZZANTIQUA, & THE MOVEMENT IN THE MUSIC:  A DIGITAL Jazz Dance Showcase

Since the shelter-in-place order in mid March for all of California, there have been no Theatre productions, no Live Performances, not even a class available in Los Angeles to take to keep working on your craft. Slowly but surely, Artists and Producers are adjusting and finding new ways to present their creations and their viewpoints through different sources, and in new and unique ways.

PAT TAYLOR

We have all been seeing the wonderfully creative posts on Facebook, Instagram and the like, with each square transmitting from someone's home, visually, a la Hollywood Squares or The Brady Bunch, where ballet companies sync with the music and perform their repertoire, and the many parodies rewritten with special COVID-related lyrics that are helping us deal emotionally during this intense series of crises we all have had dumped upon us.

Pat Taylor, Creator, Choreographer and Artistic Director of JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble has combined several of the joyous and moving dance pieces she has choreographed since the company's inception in 1993 with new works choreographed by company members, with some special guests, that have been created since the pandemic began to present "THE MOVEMENT IN THE MUSIC: A Digital Jazz Dance Showcase."

I had the opportunity to ask Pat a few in-depth questions regarding this presentation, (see link below) after viewing it's powerful premiere on line this past Sunday:

VJM: I have reviewed your incredible dance company before. I was so looking forward to seeing your scheduled performances the beginning of this year. Can you explain what you and your company went through when the pandemic hit?

Pat Taylor: We were in rehearsal and the planning stages for several projects, including: a number of local performances, a week-long residency at a college in San Antonio, TX, our youth dance program - LEGACY Jazz Project (both our Spring class session and summer intensive), our annual concert at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center and others. The majority of these immediately went away, either out right cancelled or postponed, and consequently so did a significant amount of income for JazzAntiqua and the dancers. We found ourselves, as I'm sure many other companies have, at a loss as to how to maintain our sense of community both amongst ourselves and with the audiences we serve. It was disconcerting to go from spending so many hours together each week to no physical time together at all. Of course taking care of ourselves and seeing to the needs of our families came first and foremost. But as we each began adjusting to this new reality, the very visceral need to begin reconnecting in more concrete ways than just a phone call became apparent.

VJM: What motivated you the most to produce and present "THE MOVEMENT IN THE MUSIC: A Digital Jazz Dance Showcase," on line, in it's entirety and what went into choosing which dance pieces to include/create?

Pat Taylor: JazzAntiqua is fortunate that several of our grant-funded projects have been given the green light to be reimagined in a format that audiences can access online. Such was the case with "The Movement in the Music: A Digital Jazz Dance Showcase." The showcase was originally slated to be part of the Los Angeles Jazz Caravan (a project of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Performing Arts Program) taking place on April 26 in Leimert Park Village, which is an African American arts enclave in Los Angeles. Six producers were contracted to present performances at venues throughout the Village, and I was presenting the dance showcase on an outdoor stage. With the cancellation of the live Jazz Caravan, DCA encouraged the producers to adapt their performances, and I set about creating a digital presentation that would still embody the aesthetic and thematic elements of the live dance performance, embrace our ongoing purpose of building community and maintain many of the same production elements.

The dancers were crucial in this process as they would be conceiving, choreographing, performing and directing the videotaping of several of the works included in the project. We brainstormed ideas via Zoom meetings, Face Time conversations, conference calls, emails and texts. Our theme 'the movement in the music' - which is my guiding light for how I personally approach my work in jazz, remained at the forefront throughout. We stayed in constant communication as the works were being created and I was able to give feedback and work one-on-one with the dancer/choreographers using those same communication methods. I knew from the start that I wanted to include previously recorded JazzAntiqua works within the virtual project to give viewers a taste of the energy at our live performances, particularly our connection with audiences. We were fortunate in that our guest artist from the originally proposed project, Chester A. Whitmore, was able to choreograph and videotape a piece for us. From our company brainstorming sessions came the idea to invite JazzAntiqua alums and collaborators to share their own thoughts on the notion of 'the movement in the music' in any way that they wished to express it.


VJM: Your work embodies the physical expression of many of the feelings in this country at this very moment, but always manages to lift the spirits during the course of the piece. Could you elaborate?

Pat Taylor: I feel that there is a truth that permeates the jazz aesthetic. It can parallel the times and reflect them back to us. And as long as I remain committed in my vision of embodying through movement what is at the heart of the music in my experience of it, truth will be present. I often talk about, meditate on, explore, create around and teach from this notion of 'the movement in the music' in my personal approach to jazz dance as I contemplate a Black American music and movement tradition. Across time and this continuum (from West African roots to field hollers, ring shouts, work songs, sorrow songs, spirituals, blues, ragtime, jazz, r & b, soul, rap, hip hop...) music and our other creative expressions have been how Black people have most often experienced a fully felt sense of freedom, moments of complete and honest expression. There is a great joy in that. The music has been a constant means of giving a distinct voice - in a language and manner of our choosing, to expressing our very distinct experiences in America. The social dance that grows in tandem with and in response to the music does the same. I strive to accomplish this very thing through my concert jazz dance form.

VJM: How do you see Dance performance transforming going forward, and what are your aspirations for Jazz Antiqua in the future?

Pat Taylor: I really don't have a thought at this time on how dance performance might transform going forward. I would not like to see how we're presenting work during this time period become the norm for performing arts experiences. I appreciate that we have the means to share work and create experiences online. And it is wonderful to reach folks that might not otherwise have the possibility to see these performances. JazzAntiqua is certainly learning and exploring new possibilities and will continue to do so even as we eventually return to live performances. But the performing arts are a live experience. There's an exchange of energy between artist and audience that for me is crucial. And that may be of such ongoing importance because I'm working in the jazz idiom and it is predicated on that energy exchange and on conversation that is in the moment. While we continue creating and presenting work online, I want to be as inspirational, as intentional, as aesthetically and philosophically clear with what JazzAntiqua shares virtually, as we are with what we put on stage or in front of a live audience. I want to continue to build community.

Originally part of the Los Angeles Jazz Caravan scheduled for April 2020, this is JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble's reimagined, 45-minute virtual celebration of dance that flows from and exchanges energy with our great jazz lineage, language and continuum.

Sit back, relax, and ENJOY this gift from JazzAntiqua as much as I did!! https://vimeo.com/419375533

Curated and produced by artistic director Pat Taylor.

This project is made possible with the support of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs / Performing Arts Program.

Help keep the movement going! Become a FRIEND OF JAZZANTIQUA and join them in their commitment to jazz dance education, preservation and creation. All donations are tax-deductible. paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1601917

Photo of Pat Taylor by Joe Lambie


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