Big Rapids High School Dance Group

The senior dance group in the 1963 Band Follies:

Julie Haggin, Ann Lutz, Karen Fellows, Sidney Karas, Evelyn Martz, Donna Fellows, Sandy Schuberg, and Sue Adair.

Each year Aldie Long produced the Band Follies (at least in the 1960's), there was at least one girls' dance group, sometimes two or three, comprised of members of the concert band. In the 1960's, they studied with Jean Martin Wallin of Reed City or Bonnie Wood (Tony's mother) of Big Rapids.

Soon after the stage band began rehearsing, the dance groups got a tape recording of the band performing their selections, and their teachers worked out choreography to fit the particular arrangement the band played. Trumpeter Glen Newton recalls one year when a dancer asked him why he wasn't playing the music the way they'd heard it on the tape. It turned out that they had worked out choreography that precisely fit the improvised solo he had recorded earlier in the year, extending their hands upward when he hit the highest note, and fitting other gestures to his solo, not realizing that it was improvised and likely to sound different at each performance.

The tradeoff between performing the popular music of the day and avoiding offending the public mores was sometimes tricky. For example, one year, a well-executed solo Tahitian dance to "Hawaiian War Chant" was cut after the first performance because of a complaint that it was too suggestive. On the other hand, after Si Zentner's recording of "The Stripper" reached the top ten, the 1963 Band Follies included it in all three performances. Perhaps there were some preliminary negotiations. The caption for the above picture in the 1963 yearbook supplement says, "The senior dance group thrilled their audience with their smooth and graceful jazz dance to The Stripper."

This page was last updated
Friday, February 07, 2020.

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