GVSU dance and marching band prepare for ArtPrize opening ceremony

GVL / Archive

GVL / Archive


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Grand Valley’s very own marching band and dance department will be performing at the opening ceremonies for this year’s ArtPrize on Wednesday, Sept. 19. They will be performing two pieces: “Hernando’s Hideaway,” from the musical “The Pajama Game” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

The groups will begin their performance at 6:30 p.m. at the Eberhard Center before marching over to Rosa Parks Circle at 7 p.m. to perform the rest of the opening ceremonies.

In regards to the performance, Marching Band Director John Martin said GVSU has been actively involved with ArtPrize for the last eight years. He also explained that their performances follow a similar pattern each year.

“President Haas directs the fight song, then plays a tune or two and some cheers, and then we collaborate with the dance department for some tunes,” Martin said. “[That] gets people fired up.”

Martin also said that GVSU’s involvement with ArtPrize started when the Director of Galleries and Collections Henry Matthews reached out to Martin from the very beginning of ArtPrize. Through the eight years that Grand Valley has performed at this event, Martin stated that the main difference between each year is how much bigger ArtPrize has gotten.

“Now it’s [on] live television,” Martin said. “It’s good community feedback. People see us down there. It’s gotten bigger and bigger, with more people [seeing us, including] the governor. It’s an exposure event and a celebration for Art Prize.”

The exposure generated by ArtPrize has led to the Grand Valley’s music department getting more requests for performances. For this event, ArtPrize’s growth has also led to the opening ceremony performances growing along with it. Martin said GVSU’s involvement with the ceremony has gotten more involved each year.

“[We] represent Grand Valley on a grand scale.” Martin said. “[ArtPrize] has grown from just the drum line to the full band, and now the dance department.”

Martin also said the marching band and the dance department work very well together, citing trust between the two departments, as well as professionalism. Professor Hannah Seidel, who organizes the dance sections of the ArtPrize performance, works closely with Martin to help blend the dance and musical portions.

“Seidel and I work to together to get the logistics down,” Martin said. “[The dance department] knows we’re ready, and we know they’re ready.”

The marching band and dance department will be collaborating on the piece from The Pajama Game. Martin said that the band already feels comfortable with “Respect,” but “Hernando’s Hideaway” will be a fresh collaboration that will make a later appearance in addition to ArtPrize.

“We did ‘Respect’ in show one, so that’s already prepared,” Martin said. “‘Herando’s Hideaway’ is in show two. The dance department will be part of show two on Sept. 26. [The Art Prize performance] is a good byproduct.”

With ArtPrize inching closer every day, Martin said that he’s mainly proud of the students and their performance. He also noted the impact that these performances have to the band and the community.

“The impact is that people see a great product,” Martin said. “If you’ve got a great product, people are drawn to it. [They’ll say] ‘Wow, that’s great Grand Valley at it’s best.’”