It’s Thursday May 12. The diploma ceremony for the Meadows School of the Arts is on Saturday May 14 at 6:30pm outdoors in front of the Owen Arts Center. It’s great having it outside It is quite an event. All of the departments award diplomas to graduating seniors – about two and a half hours total, I’d say. It is difficult saying good-bye, to most I’d say. Others I haven’t had in class for almost two years. This is the conclusion of my eleventh year at SMU and this will be my eleventh ceremony.
Then it’s the official start to summer. I have three “events” planned. First is the third Teaching Jazz Dance Symposium. It first happened in 2012, again in 2014 and now in 2016. It is a wonderful opportunity to share what we do as jazz dancers, teachers and choreographers and develop strategies for keeping jazz dance vital and alive. It is a very interesting and diverse group this year. The symposium is always stimulating. This will be the last under my direction. I am thinking that I will retire after the spring 2018 semester. We’ll see. The Division of Dance did a search this spring for a new jazz professor. We’ve had adjuncts for almost three years. I’ve had no one to talk with and the jazz curriculum is in need of attention and care. We hired the wonderful Brandi Coleman. She teaches Jump Rhythm technique created and developed by Billy Siegenfeld in Chicago. New blood and a younger generation – just what the Division needs – definitely what I need! Maybe Brandi might take it over.
Next is a well needed trip to the beach. Les and I usually go to Mexico’s Playa del Carmen. Every year it becomes more and more commercial. It has become difficult to find authentic, artisan Mexican anything. This summer, we are going to the Pacific, to Mazatlan. We had guest artists this semester from a wonderful Mexican contemporary dance company called Delfos. They created a new version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird for our spring main stage concert. It was quite exciting and very theatrical, a great experience for the students. Delfos also has a school in Mazatlan and Claudia Lavista and Viktor Manuel Ruiz suggested we stay at Pueblo Bonito – done deal. Can’t wait. Les will celebrate his 65th birthday on July 1. We then take off for Mexico and the beach.
Lastly, I have been invited to an NDEO (National Dance Education Organization) special topics conference, Jazz Dance: Roots and Branches in Practice at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI from July 31 – August 3. The event brings together artists and scholars to exploring jazz from its roots to the many offshoots that exist today. I will give a one hour movement session followed by a panel discussion. I am preparing my solo Le Souvenir and may perform it at some point during the three day conference. It depends on how my body is doing and if the opportunity presents itself. This is the first time I will present at an academic conference. SMU has generously offered support though a faculty development grant. Thank you Meadows School of the Arts.