On July 28, 2022, 7:30 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, the LA dance community will celebrate Jazz Dance in an evening reintroducing, reminiscing, and celebrating the very essence of the Jazz community, the teachers, choreographers, and dancers. This valentine to the community is the vision of Jackie Sleight (LA Dance Magic). Sleight, a beloved, tireless bundle of energy, is a colleague and mentor to many of the most respected and exciting dancers and choreographers in L.A. and around the country. She calls her mission, “Full Circle” recognizing that nothing just disappears but simply waits for the moment to again connect us to the roots of our Dance Family Tree. As she states, “We just have to dance.”  This feeling has gotten us through some of the most devastating and historic times of our lives: fighting social injustice, AIDS, the pandemic, dancing in kitchens, alone in alleyways, homemade studios, or hospitals…we must dance. Tickets are on sale now.

So hearing about her plan to honor and help wake this sleeping giant, she is now giving us reason to pull together to recreate the joy, the tears and, yes, the goosebumps when we hear that music, sense our dance home, and once again feel the love. From her desire comes the stories and insights that are part of our legacy…5678!

Full Circle PosterJD: So Jackie, what was the impetus for you to do this event?

JS: I don’t know, other than it’s something I wanted to do for several years. It’s been in my mind and in my dreams. I started late, (at 18 years old)  I never saw a dance class til then, I didn’t know it existed. A friend asked me to come and see Joe Bennett’s class with her. And as I stood in the doorway stunned, I cried! I cried for an hour and a half – this thing filled me with emotion, love, and desire – I just wanted to be that (a dancer…whatever that is). So, I wanted to remind and remember those who are and were a part of that world.

Full Circle - Rehearsal - Photo courtesy of Jackie Sleight

Full Circle – Rehearsal – Photo courtesy of Jackie Sleight

It’s the stories…the feelings. Some of my worst moments are actually my very best stories, like when I auditioned three times for Roland Dupree’s Scholarship program – He said, “she has no potential.”  I thought, we’ll see.I want this so bad.

In L.A. these days, in order to survive, you have to be a “New Thing.”  Now, because of the way commercials sell products, we are unintentionally forgetting what came before us. We tend to forget not only our jazz industry, but the people we owe things to.

For me it’s all about loving to dance. I don’t want the younger dancers to miss this feeling. When I was studying, if I missed class I thought I would die… that’s what it meant to me. It doesn’t feel the same now.

Full Circle - Rehearsal - Photo courtesy of Jackie Sleight

Full Circle – Rehearsal – Photo courtesy of Jackie Sleight

I always loved and respected my teachers, and I always wanted to know about their teachers. It gave me a sense of belonging. This feeling is the essence of Full Circle; this is a community project. We are pulling people together and honoring them.

JD: This is so important. Who has come together to do this evening?

JS: I’m thrilled, one of Doug Caldwell’s numbers with some of the dancers who studied and danced with him are in rehearsal now. Joe Tremaine’s number, Zzyzx that was done in the late 70’s by Tim Scott (lead) and Ben Lokey (2nd lead) will now be performed by two wonderful men, Brandon Leffler and Juan Posada. We have amazing choreographers: Mandy Moore, Liz Imperio, Marguerite Derricks,  Michael Rooney,  Ryan Heffington,  Hector Guerrero,  Al Blackstone from New York, and more…

JD: And Joe Tremaine?

JS: Yes, it’s about thanking him … jazz is a part of him. He belongs in there. He knows I care …he was and is a vital part of this. To me, Joe was the worst and the best. He would tell people “she was not the best dancer… but now [she’s] able to teach someone else.” He let me clean his apartment to pay for classes: you need to put in the work…you need to pay your dues. The thought of doing that gives it value and makes it more important. Joe will get to see this dance, and that is the greatest honor. I also owe Joe Bennett,  Rick Milland, and Roland Dupre. Roland gave me so many things. He let me teach and taught me how to teach. All helped to make my life in dance possible. I know the importance of my teachers and the teachers before them like Jack Cole, Gus Giordano, Phil Black, Frank Hatchett, Matt Mattox, and so many others in the Jazz world and how they affected the lives and careers of dancers. That’s why I need to do this.

JD: Thank you so much Jackie. Your Full Circle will definitely be the best of our world in dance and a gift to us all.

WHAT:  Full Circle

WHERE:  Wilshire Ebell Theatre

WHEN:  July 28, 2022 at 7:30 PM

TICKETS: All proceeds go to Dancers Against Cancer. To purchase tickets, please click HERE. You can also visit @ladancemagic

Written by Joanne DiVito for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Jackie Sleight – Photo courtesy of the artist