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Jazz dance returing to Beaver Dam

The Big Band Jazz Dance will be held March 17 from 7-10 p.m. at Prairie View Elementary School and feature both Beaver Dam High School Jazz I and The Little Big Band. From left are members of Jazz I Taylor Bird, Audi Puleo and Eric Simon.

Terri Pederson/Daily Citizen

A favorite concert created by a former Beaver Dam band instructor will be returning this year after the Beaver Dam High School music department has received requests to bring the concert back to life.

The Big Band Jazz Dance is an event anyone may attend and will be held at Prairie View Elementary School, 510 N. Crystal Lake Road, on March 17 from 7-10 p.m.

Beaver Dam High School Band Director Russell Diggins said they were not sure the field house would be complete in the high school when they started planning for the dance, but the event will return to the high school next year.

Retired band director Rich Zeman started the dance in 1985 and ran it for about a decade.

“It was designed to teach students about the music of the big band swing era of the 1930s and 1940s,” Zeman said. “The first dance attracted about 125 people, and 10 years later over 500 people packed the north gym for our 10th annual big band dance.”

Zeman said he is excited that it is coming back to the school.

“I still talk to former students who tell me that playing in the big band dance was one of the highlights of their high school career,” Zeman said. “It will be very exciting to introduce a whole new generation of students to big band music.”

Beaver Dam Unified School District school board member JoAnne Tyjeski still remembers performing at the dance when she was a student at Beaver Dam High School in the late 1980s.

“It was such a great experience seeing people dance to your music,” Tyjeski said. “For most of us, it was the first time we would see people physically enjoying our music. And for me personally, it has lead to a lifelong love of big band and swing music. I look forward to the dance this year”

Beaver Dam High School Jazz I and The Little Big Band will be performing. Admission is $5 at the door on the night of the concert.

The students performing in Jazz I have been practicing for weeks.

Little Big Band are adults with many educators in the mix, including Zeman.

“We will have a dance floor and there will be seating for those who would just like to sit and listen,” Diggins said.

Concessions will also be served at the dance.

Anyone wanting more information may contact Diggins at 920-885-7313, ext. 2184

Reporter at The Daily Citizen