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JazzFest Music and Dance Festival Comes to Ursinus

Ursinus College students and guest performers are ready to paint the town — and all that jazz — during the college’s inaugural JazzFest Music and Dance Festival April 28 and 29.

Presented in collaboration by the Ursinus departments of music, theater and dance, and the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies, JazzFest is a two-day celebration of music and dance featuring performances in various locations throughout campus.

“Jazz is America’s art form. Everything about it — its roots, its rhythm, its vibrancy, and its possibility — reflects American life,” says Holly Hubbs, a professor of music at Ursinus College and co-producer of the JazzFest along with Karen Clemente, a professor of dance. “Ursinus’s first-ever JazzFest will celebrate all that jazz music and dance have to offer. The festival will give students, faculty, and the community at large a chance to come together to celebrate this vibrant, improvisatory art.”

The inaugural JazzFest will kick off with an outdoor concert by the Ursinus College Jazz Ensemble Friday, April 28 at 5 p.m. on the lawn outside the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center.

Philadelphia-based musicians Diane Monroe (violin) and Tony Miceli (vibraphone) will perform April 29 at 3 p.m. in Bomberger Auditorium, and the festival will include a roots-based jazz dance concert by the Ursinus College Dance Company (UCDC), on April 28 and April 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater of the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center.

The UCDC show will feature performances by the Dunya Performing Arts Company, including choreographer Jeannine Osayande and drummer/composer Ira Bond, as well as choreography by guest artists Melanie George and Jenn Rose, and Ursinus student choreographer Donnay Burden. Pop-up events featuring student performers will occur in several locations throughout campus beginning at 4:30 p.m. on April 29. Food trucks will be on campus both days for refreshments.

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $8 for students, Ursinus faculty and staff, and seniors. Visit ursinus.edu/tickets.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to make something really unique out of this, something that could draw audiences who may not normally have gone to see and hear the same performances,” says John Newell, a member of Ursinus’s jazz band and one of the students planning JazzFest. “We can put a lot more of ourselves into the overall experience, not just the music.”

JazzFest is made possible through the U-Imagine Center’s IMPACT curriculum, which encourages the collaboration between students across academic disciplines and facilitates entrepreneurial thinking. The festival is planned and executed mostly by students in Hubbs’s History of Jazz course and Clemente’s History of Jazz Dance course. 

“I am extremely excited for this year’s Ursinus College JazzFest,” says Burden, a sophomore dance major. “As a member of the Ursinus community who is a choreographer for this semester’s UCDC, a performer for the pop up performance in the Berman Museum, and part of the committee who is planning this amazing event, I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy this amazing weekend.” —by Ed Moorhouse