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DJD to perform world premiere of Family of Jazz Thursday

DJD's has cancelled remaining performances of Family of Jazz after 3 dancers caught COVID-19 DJD's has cancelled remaining performances of Family of Jazz after 3 dancers caught COVID-19

The pandemic didn’t make Decidedly Jazz Danceworks disappear exactly. The Calgary dance company that has been around since 1984 found innovative ways to present work in a pandemic that shut down performing arts for audiences. There were several drive in dance performances, where you could park across from the DJD Dance Centre on 12th Avenue, turn on the car radio, and watch the DJD dancers performing through the glass walls of the dance centre.

There were livestreamed performances that were available on your laptop.

Thursday night, DJD will take to the stage to perform its newest work  for a full house of Calgary dance lovers.

For DJD Artistic Director Kimberley Cooper, the best way to describe Family of Jazz is through a single word: joy.

"(It's) a joyous celebration," she said, in an email to CTV News. "(It's a) jazz concert for the ears and eyes (that's) dynamic, colourful, physical, groovy, beautiful. (It's a) big breath of fresh air!"

And what figures to make this Family of Jazz special is the blend of bodies in motion and live music – an increasing rarity in a world where digital culture has cut the feet out from under live performers, much to the chagrin of a choreographer like Cooper.

"The relationship between dance and music is essential to jazz and having a live band takes that relationship to the next level," she says. "This band is incredible, two drummers, two horns, keys, bass and a singer, the music is fantastic and I think audiences will have trouble sitting still."

And why is it called Family of Jazz?

"The premise is sort of that the cast and creators are a band, and the band is called Family of Jazz," Cooper said. "The music is very eclectic, some is straight ahead, but much is from the family of jazz- samba, Afrobeat, blues, etc. Jazz is an American art form and most of us are Canadian, a lot of us are white, so we are guests in the form, or as I’m suggesting with the title, family.  All of the artists I invited to collaborate - Rubim (Toledo) the musical director - in fact the entire band as well as the guest choreographers feel like my jazz family."

The road back to the joy of performance has been tempered by the solitude and darkness of a pandemic that some days felt as if it would never end, Cooper admitted.

"All experiences do," she said. "This journey through life is a continuous process, what we hold dear can shift and change, we let go of old things and find new things to hold on to, what we want changes.  All I can be is in this moment and this process with these people feels like exactly the right thing at the right time." Top Stories

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