Friday, January 25, 2013

CGCC performing arts festivals benefit high schools, students and community

Valley high school students practice their hip hop
moves at CGCCs dance festival.
More than 270 young dancers came to Chandler-Gilbert Community College in January for the High School Dance Festival. Students participated in modern dance, hip hop and a variety of other workshops to hone their style and strengthen their skills before dancing as a team during the showcase portion of the day. This is one of four festivals scheduled on different performing arts groups for the spring 2013 semester.

“Our festivals are one of our most powerful forms of outreach to the community,” said Marcus Denton, director of choral and vocal music studies at CGCC. “The high schools benefit from the instruction provided by world-renown clinicians; CGCC benefits by demonstrating our faculty, programs and facility to the participants; and the community benefits from a concert given by well-known, talented artists.”

Next on the calendar is the Jazz Festival slated for Feb. 12 and13. Drummer Will Kennedy of the Yellowjackets is the featured clinician. Kennedy is also the house drummer for The Wayne Brady Show on ABC and the Martin Short Show in addition to recording and performing in movies such as Lady Killers, Sideways and Alfie.

“Rarely will high school students get to work directly with nationally or internationally recognized artists such as William Kennedy outside of a festival similar to ours,” said Randy Wright, music faculty who oversees the Jazz Festival. “I try to rotate the clinicians at each festival to focus on a different section of the jazz band so students get in-depth teaching on one instrument but also, because the artists are well-trained, they offer valuable instruction in all areas.”

Similar to the choral festival, each high school gets individual coaching with the clinician. After a 15 to 20 minute performance by the students, the clinician offers suggestions and works with them for an additional 40 to 45 minutes.

“One of the things I enjoy most is watching how the artists work with each group,” said Denton. “The students that come to the festival cover a wide range of skill and ability and our artists treat them the same and offer suggestions based on their current abilities. I think of this a reflection of our mission. Students come to CGCC with many different skills and abilities and we work with them from where they are to bring them to success.”

The public also is a beneficiary. Not only are they welcomed to sit in during the festival, the college coordinates a separate concert with the artist for reasonable rates. For instance, 10 dollars will get you a seat in the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center with Kennedy on Feb. 12.

“We have a great facility that can be adjusted acoustically to accommodate the performance which makes the festivals and the concerts a fabulous experience,” said Denton.

Learn more about CGCC’s upcoming performing arts events.

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