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South Valley Journal

Bluffdale Arts hits home run with ‘Swing!’

Aug 23, 2018 06:21PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Western dance number in “Swing!” (Swing/Brittany Gonder)

By Brett Jay Apgood | [email protected]

On Aug. 2–4, the Bluffdale Art Council put on the musical “Swing!” The show was performed at Oquirrh Hill Middle School in Riverton.

The show is told only through music and dance and features music from the Jazz swing era. This production featured a youth and young adult cast of about 65 people.

“At first, we were very overwhelmed at the task because we knew it was summer, we knew it was going to be put on by youth and we knew it would take a big cast to make it happen,” said Kerry Severn, the co-director of the show.

The cast was made up mostly of a mixture of students from six dance studios but also included youth from Bluffdale and surrounding cities.

“Something that made this incredibly unique is that we were able to have different choreographers,” said Malinda Severn who served as co-director for the show. “These choreographers have a history in swing and we have a history in ballroom.”

The production is credited with six choreographers over 43 musical numbers.

Along with the dancers and choreographers, a live jazz band completed the cast, which Nate Anderson put together.

“It all just became a great collaborative effort,” said Malinda Severn.

In total, the directors estimate there were about 125 people involved with the show over the 2 ½-month time frame they had to prepare for the show.

“It was such a short time to try and get something like this on the stage,” said Kerry Severn. “We are grateful that it all came together as well as it did.”

Overall, the directors were impressed with the dedication and work ethic the youth gave preparing and putting on the show.

“We are so incredibly proud of the kids and their efforts,” said Malina Severn. “We’ve got great vocalists, great dancers, great band members. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Along with dancing, the directors were also able to teach some valuable life skills.

“It’s so important to teach these youth at a young age that they can do hard things,” said Malinda Severn. “They don’t need to have stage fright, and they don’t need to just sit around all summer. They can do something really fun, something that will change their lives.”

The directors said it also allowed their young crew an opportunity to get out of the house and spend the summer serving the community and experiences the arts.

“Through that whole experience, they are having a great time; they meet new friends, and that’s something they can take with them the rest of their life,” said Kerry Severn.

The cast’s experience in dancing varied. The majority had done some dancing before, but there were some who were brand new.

“We had to take some of the experienced dancers, and they would dance with some of these other dancers that did not have as much experience,” said Kerry Severn. “So, that moved their level up to what you saw here.”

Most of the vocalists also has experience in prior productions.

“We loved the fact that we were able to spread out the lead role and pass it among about 10 different singers,” said Malinda Severn. “That made it really fun to include different characters that weren’t necessarily in the original production.”

The funding for the show came from Bluffdale; the Zoo, Arts, and Parks Foundation; and from a variety of private donators.

The directors frequently mentioned what a wonderful experience they had putting it all together. It was also fun for them to share their love for dancing, a 25-year pastime for them.

They mentioned they also received compliments from audience members, praising the experience they had going down memory lane and relieving songs and dance from the past.

“To introduce a whole new generation to this style of music and to dance because it’s something that you can do your whole life,” said Malinda Severn.