Jacobs Holiday Celebration Showcases Talent In Festive Final Season Performance
The Musical Arts Center stage glittered silver and gold on Saturday night. The backdrop for the show, a snow-covered forest, covered the backstage, and scarlet poinsettias lined the front of the stage. Golden harps crowned with Santa Claus hats glowed under the lights as the audience, many dressed in holiday sweaters and nutcracker earrings, awaited the start of the show.
IU Jacobs School of Music students and local artists presented the Jacobs Holiday Celebration on Saturday night at the MAC. The show, a holiday-themed variety show, showcased a wide variety of musical and dance talent.
Grammy-winning singer and IU alumnus Sylvia McNair hosted and performed during the show. Jacobs School of Music Acting Dean Jeremy Allen, McNair and Holiday Celebration Artistic Director Brent Wallarab hosted the event.
“It’s a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle,” McNair said. “Jeremy put the frame together, and Brent and I started working on putting the internal parts together.”
This is the fourth year that the Jacobs Holiday Celebration has been presented. Originally premiered in 2009, the then informal production took place at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Following its success, the show was repeated in 2011.
During the years the school didn’t do a holiday celebration show, McNair said people asked him when he would be back. Jacobs Holiday Celebration was brought back in 2019, but a performance in 2020 was not considered due to the pandemic.
Halfway through the first act, a group of guitars entered the scene. At one point in the performance, the ensemble came to a halt as director Daniel Duarte raised his hands. The tempo picked up as the band launched into the faster “Mele Kalikimaka”, a Hawaiian Christmas song.
The guitar set is made up of 12 guitars with other accompanying instruments. Focused on the idea of Christmas around the world, the arrangement of the ensemble brought together pieces from Hawaii, Catalonia, Austria and Ukraine.
“People see ukuleles and they just think, ‘Oh, now I’m happy,’” said Duarte.
It also gives guitar students the opportunity to practice and play with different types of guitars, Duarte said.
The final segment of the holiday celebration featured Duke Ellington’s interpretation of “The Nutcracker Suite”. The suite is a jazz interpretation of several entertainments, or short dances from the greatest “Nutcracker” ballet. IU ballet dancers performed pieces from the suite.
Elaina da Fonte, a junior IU studying ballet and international studies, has performed in several entertainments. She said working on this piece was different from the more traditional version of “The Nutcracker” because of the number of people on stage.
“It’s a lot more interacting with each other on stage and a game you can only really catch when there are multiple people dancing in that part,” da Fonte said.
The jazz style of “The Nutcracker Suite” was a change of pace from the classical music and choreography of “The Nutcracker,” da Fonte said. She said there were places where jazz choreography leaned on ballet choreography, but in the rooms she was in, the similarity was most noticeable in the way she was expected to behave.
The rehearsal process was crazy, said da Fonte, as it started while they were still rehearsing for IU ballet’s “The Nutcracker”. Rehearsals took place at the end of the regular ballet day after the “The Nutcracker” rehearsals and on weekends.
“There will be a lot of improvisational elements that will probably take us by surprise,” da Fonte said. “Honestly, I think it’s just going to keep us a little bit more on our toes. “