Samba drum and dance class molds music and movement

By By Darcy Posselli

By Darcy Posselli

In many cultures, the word for “dance” and “music” is the same because the two arts are so intertwined. The goal of a Samba Drum and Dance class at the U is to hone in on this connection between music and dance through the interactions between musicians and dancers.

“It seems weird that, in European culture, we separate (the words ‘dance’ and ‘music’) so much, whereas in other cultures, it is completely connected,” said Mason Aeschbacher, the instructor of the musical portion of the class.

The class focuses on Brazilian dance and music and the passion that people in Brazil have for both, Aeschbacher said. “They drink (music) like it’s water down there, and they dance everywhere.”

This is the fourth semester that the Samba Drum and Dance class has been offered. At first, few students took the class, but gradually, more people have become interested. Instructors are looking to recruit more students for Spring Semester.

Aeschbacher attributes small class sizes to bad scheduling. This semester, the class was held on Saturdays at noon, which he said was often in conflict with other student obligations. However, the class might be moved to Monday or Tuesday night next semester.

Lauren Hanson, who teaches the dance portion of the class, attributed small enrollment numbers to the unwillingness of dancers and musicians to try out a different medium.

“We usually get dancers who don’t think they can drum or drummers who don’t think they can dance,” Hanson said. “We really want people to experience both sides of it, so they can see how they influence each other and bounce off each other.”

The dance portion of the class focuses on several styles, including samba, samba-reggae, maracatu, Afro-Brazilian, 12/8 and club dancing. The main emphasis of the class is samba and samba-reggae dancing. Brazilian religious dances are also taught to help students further understand the deep connection Brazilians perceive between music and dance.

Brent Schneider, a dean in the College of Fine Arts, said the class was created because a Brazilian music class offered by professor Jon Scoville was overbooked.

Next semester, instructors of the class are looking to make it more intensive.

“We’ve talked about making it a longer, forum class and having it count for something other than just credit,” Aeschbacher said. “Some day down the road, we may have a three-hour, in-depth class that will have papers and more reading, perhaps.”

The class is open to all students, non-dance majors and dance majors alike. The class is equally divided between dance majors, music majors and non-majors, Schneider said.

“People from all over the campus and the community come and take the class,” Schneider said. “It not only is an amazingly fun class to do — it broadens our students’ perspective on dance.”

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