ABERDEEN, S.D. – The annual NSU Jazz Swing Dance – a night of swirling dancers and exciting college musicians playing like it's 1948 – will be Friday night, Nov. 16, at the Ward Plaza Hotel Grand Ballroom.
The night will feature three full big bands, a jazz-swing combo and the NSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, all performing celebrated and beloved swing-dance standards for dancing and listening.
Music starts at 7:30 p.m., with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, available at the door and at the customer service counter at Ken’s SuperFair Foods. Children under 8 get in free, and tickets are half price for children up to age 12.
According to many in town, the event has become one of “Aberdeen’s defining events” – a gala affair of the late fall and early spring.
The bands this year will feature several vocalists, including NSU senior voice major Yvonne Freese singing Nat Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky,” Ella Fitzgerald’s “Starlit Hour,” Stan Kenton’s “Tampico” and “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.” NSU senior voice major Leah Kooiman will sing Benny Goodman’s “And the Angels Sing,” and community member Mathew Harmel will sing Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” and “Cheek to Cheek.” NSU vocal major Anthony Rohr will sing Michael Buble’s “Sway.”
The event has its origins in the NSU Jazz Ensemble’s traditional November Big Band concert honoring Veterans Day. Before 2006, NSU Jazz Ensemble and Vocal Jazz students would perform authentic works of the big band era, dressed in period military uniforms, with ballroom dancers on the Johnson Fine Arts Center stage. The growth of the fine arts department at allows for two full big bands, a large Vocal Jazz Ensemble directed by new music education faculty Dr. Wendy Van Gent, plus a faculty “Little Big Band” band performing the music of longtime regional bandleader Art Hollan. The NSU Jazz Combo directed by Professor Frederick Hemke fills out the non-stop lineup.
“This group has a lot of young talent in it due to a great recruiting year last year, and it has been exciting to watch the freshmen and sophomores step into leadership roles in the groups and undergo the musical growth this brings,” said Dr. Grant Manhart, NSU professor of high brass and jazz studies. “These kids have a lot on their plate in the fall, including playing professional scores in the pit for the fall musical, performing in the NSU marching band, starting the NSU Symphonic Band in October, performing in the NSU university-community orchestra. Some are also in the choirs, plus all their university and music studies.”
The NSU basketball season also begins Friday night, Nov. 16, so the basketball fans and teams will have to do without the Wolfpack Pep band until after the big band weekend. The 2 O’Clock big band also will perform Saturday night at “Northern Night,” the annual NSU fall fundraiser at the Dakota Event Center.