DCDC brings music of jazz great Wynton Marsalis alive through dance

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will bring the music of jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis alive on Dayton’s Victoria Theatre stage Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, Oct. 8 at 4 pm.

The evening will feature three world premieres set to live music from University of Dayton’s Jazz Ensemble and a trio of jazz musicians collaborating under DCDC music director Deron Bell. The scores will highlight the wide breadth of Marsalis’ body of work.

Wynton Works hits the stage Oct. 7 & 8! DCDC Dancer Matthew Talley, photo credit Scott Robbins

Choreographer Stafford C. Berry Jr., creator of crowd favorite “Wawa Aba” seen in last spring’s Vantage Points concert, is creating a new piece with the working title “Double Dutch & Broken Levies.”

“Watching the news, I was struck by this idea that dangerous, violent works of nature are sort of a staple in some communities. In certain economically disadvantaged communities, when storms happens, levies break," Berry said. "It happens as regularly as we see double dutch & jump rope & jacks & hula hoops. I wanted to juggle these two cultural phenomenons and see what conversation we could have by putting this very whimsical cultural information beside tragedy."

DCDC Associate Artistic Director Crystal Michelle is choreographing a quartet based on a series of scores from Marsalis called “The Death of Jazz.” The music has the feel of a New Orleans funeral dirge, she described.

“There’s a speech where Wynton is talking about how they’ve been trying to kill jazz since it was born, and for me, that’s metaphorical for the black existence,” Michelle said. “The idea is to play with those gestures of minstrelsy. Each dancer takes on a caricature. Eventually the piece turns violent, not towards themselves, but in that effort to peel off the layers of racism, classism, those things that have a real history and that take physical work to peel back once you recognize what they are.”

DCDC dancers Qarrianne Blayr and Countess V. Winfrey are collaborating to choreograph the culminating piece, which explores the community agreement about what happens on the journey through life.

“The opening section is mostly about getting knocked down and deciding to get back up,” Blayr said. “Two people fall in love. There’s a trio where three men represent older and younger versions of one man. There’s also a section that speaks to when you leave home the first time, whether for college or work, you leave the nest, and the support system that has always been there, and one day you look up and you’re on stage alone dancing a solo.”

The show is sponsored by the Dayton Power & Light Foundation and the University of Dayton.

Tickets are available through Ticket Center Stage, online here or by phone at 937-228-3630.

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