Weekend filled with dance and jazz

The Walton Arts Center is opening its doors to two shows this weekend that demonstrate what Northwest Arkansas’ exceptionally young artistic talent has. The Dhirana Academy of Classical Dance will present “The Exiled King” at 7pm today, and the Northwest Arkansas Jazz All-Stars Youth Ensemble will perform a concert with legendary jazz musician Bobby Watson at 6pm on Sunday.

“What you learn in class are all the theoretical aspects of dancing – if you really need to learn any performing art, it’s actually through presentation,” says Meghan Rao, founder and dance teacher. at the Dhirana Classical Dance Academy. “[The dancers] get visibility, they get to know their audience, they learn how to present themselves to an audience. At Dhirana, we encourage them to perform as many times as possible, no matter what audience size, audience size, or where they perform – it doesn’t matter, as long as they happen. and get the exposure they need. “

Dhirana students learn the dance genre called Bharatanatyam, one of the oldest forms of Indian classical dance. “The Exiled King” is a repetition of the great Hindu epic “The Ramayana”, written by Sage Valmiki in the 5th century BC

Rao says that although his students are young, they function more like professional dancers – some have been studying art for up to nine years and, due to their busy schedules, they usually find themselves dancing up to five times a day. week. The company travels and has performed in larger cities such as Little Rock, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

“They are student artists – they take it very seriously,” says Rao. “It’s not just a passing hobby.”

Likewise, the Northwest Arkansas Jazz All-Stars Youth Ensemble includes 14 exceptional young musicians who were looking for a challenge to further their musical education. Musicians can audition for the ensemble when they reach ninth grade – but Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society executive director Robert Ginsburg says the passion for the project can start even earlier than that.

“If a student has musical gifts and is adept at it from an early age, and it becomes a really important part of their life, it fuels the discipline to be a great musician,” Ginsburg explains. . “Being a great musician is incredibly hard work. The gifts of God are wonderful, but they won’t get you as far as discipline and hard work.”

These student musicians admitted to the Jazz All-Stars met and rehearsed in socially distant pods this spring, had a recording studio experience, and this Sunday will perform on the big stage at Baum Walker Hall with legendary jazzman Bobby. Watson. It is an intoxicating experience for students who have not yet completed high school.

“Not only will they get the technical training they need, but they will also have the culture,” says Ginsburg. “The spirit of it. And I made sure that was part of the program – and there’s no better way to do that than to bring in these alumni.”

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for your information

Dhirana classical dance academy

Presents “ The Exiled King ”

7 p.m. today

Set of young jazz stars

With Bobby Watson

7 p.m. Sunday

O – The Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville

COST – $ 15

INFO – 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org

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