World Music & Dance at John Burroughs High

John Burroughs High School | Funded Fall 2018

To expose students and staff to a new style of dance and music, the JBHS choir program brought in guest artists from UCLA’s Ethnomusicology Department to teach West African dance and drumming and vocal style. Students were taught some basic history, language, drum technique, and movement, providing a window into a new artistic culture.

The material learned was then adapted into a contemporary context for the students’ final performances. In introducing music and dance styles from other cultures, teachers and students worked tirelessly to make sure the final product was well-researched and honored the cultures they were portraying. According to Choir Director, Brendan Jennings, “this semester-long project was a key element in moving the artistic vision of the program forward. We always strive to challenge the students and break new ground. This was a powerful and successful way to do that.”

“The students’ initial experience in the dance workshop and the overall final product were the two most successful parts of the project. The teachers from UCLA brought such joy in teaching the subject. One student exclaimed a the end, ‘This is the best thing we’ve ever done in choir!’ Students were engaged and excited about the process. When it came to final performances, I think even the students were a little shocked at the huge reaction by the audience to their overall performance. At one event, we received three standing ovations – two in the middle of the show and one a the very end.”
-Brendan Jennings, JBHS Choir Director

Click the image below to read a reflection letter from a JBHS Choir Student:









Photos from the Workshops & Final Performances: 

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