Big Band Sweetheart dance returns for another night of fun | ParkRecord.com
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Big Band Sweetheart dance returns for another night of fun

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff

Last year when the Park City High School Music Department needed some money for a Memorial Day trip to Disneyland, parent Keiko Moffett proposed the idea for the Big Band Sweetheart Dance. The event would be a classic big-band concert, presented by the High School Jazz Band, with dinner and plenty of dancing included. At the time, Moffett said her idea was to host an event that could bring the community old and young together.

The idea was a hit. A packed house, including everyone from seniors to high school students, turned out for the dance, raising money for the band and participating in a spirited evening.

"I had kids come up to me and say, I never knew how much of a difference it makes to see people dancing to the music," said Moffett. "They said that more than applause, that to play the first song and see people jump up and dance was great."

The event will return this year on Feb. 10 from 7-11 p.m., again at the Yarrow Hotel with dinner and dancing, and Moffett said the difference from last year would be simple.

"The difference," she said, "is better music."

"The music department is very picky about their music, and while the audience thought it was perfect [last year], the music department wants it to be better."

The band, she said, will play three 45-minute sets from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and with the experience of last year’s concert, she noted that the music will undoubtedly improve.

"We as an audience will probably enjoy it even more," Moffett said.

Like last year, the show will include classic big-band tunes, with numbers from artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman.

High school band director Chris Taylor noted that the show offers the students an opportunity to play in a professional setting instead of performing a typical, 20-minute long competition piece.

"A three-hour dance job is not easy on the player," Taylor noted.

So practicing for the show and playing it helps the high school students develop the kind of endurance they would need to maintain a career as professional musicians.

But at the same time, he said, the show isn’t only a lesson. Musicians play to bring enjoyment to an audience, he noted, and the Big Band Night offers just that kind of chance.

"The songs take on a new meaning," said Taylor. "It’s more why we do music in the first place."

"One of my big things is to mix the community, the old and the young, the new dancers and the experienced ones," said Moffett.

She said the Big Band Sweetheart Dance offered a perfect chance to bring high school students and other younger community members into contact with some of the area’s older residents, while at the same time offering seniors a chance to dance unlike any they’ve had in recent memory.

"We had a lot of community faces there [last year]," Taylor noted.

Moffett also noted that the event is a great chance for old high school alumni to return.

Taylor said the money from the event will go into the music department account for its various needs throughout the year.

While last year the high school needed to send the orchestra, band and choir to Disneyland, this year, the department’s needs are more diverse. Some of the funds will be used to send the band to Boston for a competition, and the rest will go toward needs like sound equipment, instruments and other materials.

Ultimately, Moffett said she hopes the event will be a memorable one for the community. Approximately 280 people attended last year, and she said she’s aiming for a similar crowd again this year.

"I would just like to promote this as a family dance," she said.

Taylor guaranteed the show should be good.

"If people are worried, these kids are far from typical high school musicians," he said.

The Big Band Sweetheart Dance will take place on Friday, Feb. 10 from 7-11 p.m. at the Yarrow Hotel. Dinner and dancing are included. Tickets are $40 per person and $30 for seniors with tables of 10 available for $400. Tickets are available from the Eccles Center box office at 655-3114.


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