This Saturday, Feb. 26, Northwestern will be holding its second annual Jazz Soiree from 7-10 p.m. at the Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City. The first soiree was held in February of 2019. Being cancelled or delayed the past two years, NW students are excited to see the event up and running again.
The Jazz Soiree is a classy, semi-formal dance that has jazz dance lessons for the first hour of the dance followed by two hours filled with live jazz music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks. NW’s Jazz Band will be the night’s musicians, playing all the classic swing music pieces, including “In The Mood,” “String of Pearls,” “Sing, Sing, Sing” and others. On top of this, there will be various other styles including Latin charts and various ballads. Sophonise Nielson, a sophomore business administration major, will be the featured vocalist of the night, performing various vocal charts and the song “Respect” made popular by Aretha Franklin.
While current students are most familiar with the Jazz Soiree, the dance itself was another version of a dance hosted by the SAC for over two decades from 1986-2009 called “The Ballroom Dance.” Set up around the same time as the Jazz Soiree, students often endeavored to make the night as romantic as possible, with a fancy meal, flowers and looking their absolute best. The NW Jazz Band was usually the entertainment, but sometimes the college hired outside jazz ensembles, such as the Reggie Schive Jazz Orchestra. This time, the magnificent NW Jazz Band will be the night’s artists, and the event will be spearheaded by newcomer SAC member, freshman social work major, Bailey Brown.
Jazz Band director, Dr. Angela Holt, is extremely excited to be back playing live music for the event. “Live music is a way to connect with one another – quite differently than a recording,” Holt exclaims. “There is emotion in live music that, once it’s played, there will never be a same performance like it again – it is art that is moving and one of a kind. The listeners engage in ways that the musicians feed off of and respond in the moment. It’s such a unique and amazing experience!”
The Jazz Soiree is an atmosphere filled with fun and letting go. Students get to dance the night away learning classic and advanced swing dance techniques and gaining a “cultural and educational experience, and just having a blast” in the words of Holt. Students also walk away with valuable knowledge of dance steps that they can use in other dance settings; Lucas Heiberger, director of student programs, comments that he is “a firm believer everyone should know how to dance at least a little bit!”
The students who attend and participate will also be in the presence of musicians who praise God through music. Holt said, “Music has been a powerful vehicle in my life. God has used it to teach me about who He is and about who I am, to connect with others, to communicate and express in ways like no other, and ultimately to bring praise to our Creator.”
When asked why students should go, multiple parties answered the same way: “Why not?!” The Jazz Soiree is a wonderful opportunity to take a break, have fun with friends, and maybe even end up with a date! According to Heiberger, “The big trick with the Jazz Soiree is that students are encouraged to find a blind date for their roommate to the dance!”
The dance has a $5 entry fee at the door, and the profits will go towards supporting the Symphonic Band as they prepare for their upcoming spring break tour.