Waltz, swing and snack at Swinging in Vienna

January 11, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Ben Rosellini and the trumpet section of the Issaquah Jazz Band perform jazz standards during last year’s Swinging in Vienna at the Issaquah Community Center. By Greg Farrar

The Viennese waltz spread through Europe in the early 19th century, filling dance halls with men and women who, according to social critics, danced a little too closely with one another.

Pushing the social envelope, the dancers paid no heed to the critics, and the tradition spread across the Atlantic, all the way to Issaquah.

The 13th annual Swinging in Vienna concert features the Issaquah School District Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra and Issaquah High School jazz band, which will play music as patrons dance through the school’s commons.

The orchestra has a litany of waltzes and polkas to play and the band will bring back the 1940s with swing music from the Big Band era. The public, whether skilled at dancing or not, is invited to the show for waltz and swing lessons with a serving of desserts, coffee and punch to keep them going.

Orchestra Director Doug Longman will teach waltz lessons before conducting his pack of about 70 musicians — all who had to audition for the districtwide ensemble.

Liberty High School senior Marika Tindall-Ralph, who plays the violin, said students get a kick out of watching Longman lead dance tutorials.

“He tries to do both the boy and the girl at the same time,” she said.

In the past, organizers held the concert at the Issaquah Community Center. This year, musicians will play in the new commons at Issaquah High.

The commons would be an ideal space because the music “resonates,” Tindall-Ralph said. “I think the concrete helps.”

Jazz band teacher Patrick Holen, who teaches the swing dance tutorial, said students would decorate the commons to help dancers get in the mood.

“We string lights everywhere,” he said. “It looks like you’re kind of in the middle of Vienna dancing to waltzes.”

Every year, a crowd from Gig Harbor comes to dance to the live music — a rarity these days in the age of music disc jockeys.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Holen said. “The fact that people get to dance in front of a live band or orchestra, it doesn’t happen often anymore.”

Both students and adults don their semiformal wear for the dance, said Issaquah High senior Jamie Elderkin, who plays the flute and piccolo.

Adult volunteer Gordon Brown wrote two waltzes and a polka for the orchestra, giving the musicians and dancers something new to entertain themselves with during the concert.

Proceeds from the dance benefit both the orchestra and the jazz band, which will use the money to pay for field trips, like the orchestra’s trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, and the jazz band’s trip to New York City later this year.

If you go

Swinging in Vienna

  • 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16
  • Issaquah High School
  • 700 Second Ave. S.E.
  • $50 couple; $40 single for adults
  • $40 couple; $25 single for students and seniors
  • Contact Patrick Holen at holenp@issaquah.wednet.edu, or 837-6116, or any music student for tickets.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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