By Tarin McMorrow,
Davis High’s Jazz Choir has been around since the 1970s, when it was created by Richard Brunelle. Decades later, the choir has gone through many changes, but the dedication and passion it takes to be the choreographer and to lead such a large group of kids in co-creating their often complex and distinct routines has remained a constant.
“The [Davis High] Jazz Choir choreographer position has been a vital part of the ensemble’s leadership structure, working […] to create a visually interesting show choir presentation reaching beyond the standard choral performance practice of stationary musical performance,” 12-year Jazz Choir Director William Zinn said.
Recently, however, the position became even more challenging; new choreographer Jeff Teague was hired part-way into the first semester.
Teague emanates professionalism after working many years with a theater company out of Alameda, Calif., and infuses an uplifting enthusiasm that he mastered while working at Disneyland. He was a well–liked candidate among staff and students during the decision making process.
The appointment of a new choreographer follows three steps. First is the written application, which simply informs the director of interest or intention to apply. Anyone can submit a written application without restrictions.
Next comes the interview process, where candidates are questioned by a panel made up of a mixture of staff, students and parents.
Lastly, each candidate must come into the choir class and teach the students a routine. This offers the choir a chance to see the applicant’s style and how he or she interacts with the students.
In addition to the panel, the students can also offer input after the choreography session has been completed.
“We looked for candidates with knowledge of music and the implications of designing movement to compliment singing,” Zinn said.
Jazz Choir dance captain and member of the interview panel Joey Tan explained important qualities needed in a new choreographer.
“Someone who is prepared, and has good choreography–obviously that’s really important–and also has a good personality and vibes well with the students, and who is a good teacher,” the junior said.
Teague has big shoes to fill; Cara Rains had been the choreographer since 2009, and was affectionately nicknamed the “Heart of Jazz Choir.” Rains did everything in her power to make the Jazz Choir a second family; she brought people together, and as a DHS alumni, could relate to students on a more personal level.
“Cara’s ebullient personality and common touch drew the students to her and she built upon that to help each member of the class feel valued and connected to one another,” Zinn said.
But students are not worried about the sudden change and look forward to the year with optimism. The annual Jazz Choir Cabaret, the biggest event of the year, does not debut until February, leaving the students with ample time to get used to their new instructor.
“Members of Jazz Choir join me in my excitement as we look ahead to new levels of achievement in presenting powerful, entertaining and educational programs to our audiences and community” Zinn said.