Friday, February 3, 2017.
More than 1,450 local students experienced something they never had before at The Smith Center this January: fiery drum cadences pumped up with step dancing, horn mash-ups and hip hop.
At no cost to schools, fifth through 12th-grade students from 15 schools attended a special matinee performance of “DRUMline Live!” where they were given a high-energy introduction to the marching band legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Brought to their feet to dance and cheer, students witnessed the sizzling stage presence HBCU bands are renowned for, with performers dancing full choreography while playing hit melodies from Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temptations and Beyoncé.
“It’s a very different style of marching and music than what we’re used to playing out here,” said Zach Hartley, band director of Las Vegas High School, after the show. “It was really nice to see the energy and the amount of enthusiasm (the musicians) were able to pull from the audience, which is something that we’re really working on getting our ensemble members to understand.”
Made possible by generous donations, student matinees are hosted at The Smith Center throughout the year to introduce younger generations to the performing arts.
All HBCU graduates, the “DRUMline” performers shared the history of HBCU institutions, as well as the importance of education and pursuing a career.
This was a top reason Leavitt Middle School brought its student council members to the matinee, said teacher Megan Krier.
“The show focuses on colleges and these students are in leadership roles, so it’s educational for them,” Krier said. “Our student council is also very diverse, and it’s great exposing them to a show with such a strong element of diversity.”
Claudia Matias-Matias, who plays violin at William H. Bailey Middle School, said the show motivated her to keep practicing.
“The whole drumline gave me inspiration to keep going with my instrument, that I could get far and that I could be like them, and inspire other people to do the same thing,” she said.
Lisandro Zamora-Quinones, a Bailey Middle School student and mariachi musician, said he gleaned new ideas from how the performers persuaded the audience to stand and dance.
“That’s really helpful not only to hear the music, but also move with it,” he said.
Most of La Toya Johnson’s students had never visited The Smith Center before, the Bailey Middle School teacher said.
“They didn’t just learn about playing instruments, but about how the performers worked together, because they wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t work together,” Johnson said.
Her favorite part of the show?
“The very beginning to the very end,” she said with a laugh.
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