A national jazz dance conference created by Salve Regina University professor Lindsay Guarino is being held on campus July 31-Aug. 3, which is on the heels of the city’s famed Newport Jazz Festival July 29-31.

The conference, “Jazz Dance: Roots and Branches in Practice,” is being co-hosted by the National Dance Education Organization – the largest dance organization in the country. Hosted on the university’s seaside campus grounds, the conference will look at jazz dance broadly through movement workshops and conversations, inviting dialogue that connects the past, present and future of jazz.

While admission to the Newport Jazz Festival is not included in conference registration, Salve Regina is offering discounted lodging options to conference attendees for the festival weekend.

“The conference is unique in that it is the first national jazz dance conference of its type, and it is exciting for me personally because it was inspired by my textbook that was published in early 2014,” Guarino said. “Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches (University of Florida Press: 2014), was edited by Guarino and Wendy Oliver.

“The conference is possibly one of the most important things I’ve done for the Salve Regina dance program,” Guarino said. “It’s helping me to give the program a unique identity in jazz dance – something very different from other dance programs across the country.

“With a long history of jazz in Newport and my own research, it only makes sense that the dance program carries this ‘brand,’” Guarino said. “Since late last year, dance educators from across the country have been subject to daily emails from NDEO with information about the conference, featuring photos of Salve’s campus and dancers – so, a very important step in recruitment for the dance program.”

Jazz dance today is somewhat of an enigma, meaning many different things to many different people. Some people are loyal to the authentic jazz of the Jazz Era when dance and music were inseparable entities that stood firmly in West African roots while reflecting the American spirit. Other people identify jazz dance as a theatrical style heavily reliant on ballet-based movement and suited for Broadway and concert dance stages. Still others see jazz as a commercial form of dance that reflects popular culture while absorbing myriad global influences. As we look at the dance landscape today it is exciting to recognize that jazz in its many manifestations is a truly American art form that is deeply ingrained and ever-present in our culture. Join us in Newport to decipher the true meaning of jazz as it embodies so many seemingly contradictory personalities.

Special Guest presenters at the conference will include Bob Boross, Danny Buraczeski, Thom Cobb, Moncell Durden, Melanie George, Karen Hubbard, Darwin Prioleau, Billy Siegenfeld and Sheron Wray.

For more information or to register, click on the Jazz Conference link at www.nedo.org.

Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).