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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011

IU swings with Big Band Extravaganza 2011

WHAT: "Big Band Extravaganza: For Dancers Only," presented by the IU Jacobs School of Music
WHEN: Saturday, April 23, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Musical Arts Center
TICKETS: Reserved seating tickets are $10-$25 for adults and $8 for students and are available at the MAC Box Office, 812-855-7433, online at or through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

Expanded program features professional dancers

April 14, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Presenting a "dynamic and exciting" take on a revered Bloomington tradition, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will host its annual Big Band Extravaganza Saturday, April 23, at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center with the addition of professional jazz dance and projections.


Photo by Ryan Rahn

Jon Tigert, left, will perform at the 2011 Big Band Extravaganza.

Print-Quality Photo

In a new way of offering classic big band jazz repertoire to the Bloomington community, the 2011 extravaganza will feature three couples of professional dancers joining the musicians onstage, giving the audience a more accurate representation of what this music was originally about. As is the tradition, the program will be musically performed by two virtuosic student big bands led by Indiana jazz legends and IU jazz faculty members David N. Baker and Brent Wallarab.

"Big band music is almost exclusively heard in a concert setting these days, and while the music certainly deserves that kind of attention, that kind of presentation obscures the fact that this was functional, social music," Wallarab said. "And I can speak from experience that playing this music for dancers brings a whole different level of energy than just performing it in a passive concert setting. It was meant for dancing."

Wallarab has worked extensively with lead dancers Jon Tigert and Emily Jessup on both concerts and educational events across Indiana. They will be joined by dancers John Holmstrom, Caitlin Baird, Mandy Spencer and Chris Schoenfelder.

The dancers won't be the only visual addition to the Big Band Extravaganza this year. A giant screen behind the bands will project images of the original musicians with descriptive information.

"For instance, when we play 'Take the A Train,' the audience will get to see photos of Duke Ellington, composer Billy Strayhorn and Ray Nance, who played the original trumpet solo," Wallarab said.

A staple that won't change is the climax of the evening, when Baker's and Wallarab's bands join together for the grand finale: Benny Goodman's rousing Sing, Sing, Sing.

"We will be focused on the swing music that filled the dance floors with jitterbugs and foxtrots," Wallarab said. "It will be a dynamic and exciting show."

About the dancers

Jon Tigert is a nationally recognized dancer, choreographer and teacher in the swing dance community. He has performed from Boston to Albuquerque, Minneapolis, New Orleans and beyond in his travels. In 2009, he won the Collegiate Jitterbug Championships (with partner Mandy Spencer) as well as the Amateur Showdown at Midwest Lindy Fest. Since then, he has been teaching around the country and for Naptown Stomp, the premiere swing dance organization in Indianapolis. Outside of dancing, Tigert is an accomplished singer/actor, having recently performed with the Indianapolis Symphony in its production of "Yuletide" as both a singer and a featured dancer.

Emily Jessup first discovered her passion for social dance at a rockabilly show in 1997. Soon thereafter, she began traveling the world to study swing era dances. Today, she focuses on the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. In co-operation with other Indianapolis swing dance enthusiasts, she helped to create Naptown Stomp, a Lindy Hop Society that offers weekly progressive swing dance lessons, organizes social functions and hosts weekend workshops with internationally known instructors. As a dancer, Jessup has appeared on the TV magazine Across Indiana, on the cover of Indianapolis Monthly magazine's "Best of Indy" issue and in the book Indianapolis Leading the Way. She is also a featured dancer in the Young Audiences production "How America Learned to Swing."