It's All About the Music
November 29, 2001
Day One at the AAHPERD National Convention (National Dance Association):
It’s easy to go into overwhelm at a conference like this–thinking, how can I absorb all this to bring back to my students (or in my case, to you as readers). A good strategy is to focus on one great thing each day. For my money, today that would be Leslie Walden of Illinois State University. She has created a jazz dance syllabus based on 20th Century American music to give her students a deeper understand of the form. “You can’t assume a 19-year-old knows that hip hop derived from jazz,” she said.
During the semester she covers:
Lindy Hop/Swing
Musical Theatre
Soul and R&B
Rock & Roll
Hip Hop
The way it works is that she focuses on each style for a week or two. When the focus is ragtime, for instance, she’ll show the Charleston in the movie, “The Great Gatsby.” For the latin focus, she shows “West Side Story.” But the primary influence is the music. For ragtime for instance she’ll play Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and James Scott all through the class, from warm-up to combinations to cool down. She showed us a clip of “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and taught us two short combinations using latin and blues music to demonstate.
Later, NDA presented its 2009-10 National Educator of the Year awards to:
Mary Ann Laverty (K-12)
Woodside High School in Newport News, Virginia
Billie Lepczyk (College and University)
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
Congratulations Mary Ann and Billie!

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