Jump Rhythm Jazz Project leads community dance class, inspires students

Andraya Croft | Staff Photographer Pat Coen learns new dance moves during the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project in the Rose Center Dance Studio on Saturday. "I wanted to come see what they were about before attending their performance tonight, it was interesting," said Coen.

As four members of the dance company Jump Rhythm Jazz Project began to shout, jump and move around the dance floor, it was clear their dance class would be unlike any other.

The community dance class, open to both Central Michigan University students and community members Saturday morning, was created to reach out to those interested in learning from this very knowledgeable and passionate group.

The class, led by Jump Rhythm members Lois Snavely, Peter Hammer, Jordan Batta and Eva Carpenter, encouraged participants to use their hands, head and voice to connect to the earth, themselves and others.

"Challenge yourself to make a mistake," Batta said. "Worst case scenario, you have an awesome solo – just make the mistake with conviction and energy."

The first half of the class focused on understanding the rhythm and beat behind each movement. Music was not added until halfway through the class.

From young children to elderly community residents, the company members had everyone on their feet and moving. As the class progressed, the energy increased as participants learned basic steps and movements, which led to a dance face-off.

"I danced in high school, so today I'm hoping to learn a lot while also getting a good workout," said Evart freshman Lydia Wetters before the show. "I haven't done jazz in a long time, so I'm looking forward to what this class has to offer."

Jump Rhythm company apprentice, Eva Carpenter, shared her involvement with the company and how teaching has changed her life.

"I got involved with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project when I took the summer intensive program in 2012 and I loved it," Carpenter said. "What I love about being a part of these classes is that I get to connect with complete strangers and the energy in the room is amazing."

The hard work and dedication of the company members did not go unnoticed by participants, including community member Elizabeth Klak.

"I go to Off-Broadway Performing Arts Studio, so that's how I heard about this class today," Klak said. "It's really interesting to see the two very different sides of dance. There's the very technical and structured side of dance and then there's the fun and carefree side, which this class definitely had."

Later Saturday evening, the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project performed a show in the Plachta Auditorium.


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