The Open Movement and Music Jam is a hidden gem among events at Lawrence. The most recent of these monthly events was on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. in Esch Hurvis Studio in the Warch Campus Center. The jam opens up with everyone sitting in a circle on the floor of the studio where they introduce themselves and are made to feel welcome in the space. The general concept of the jam is that it is a place to play, dance, move or sing, in whatever form that comes. These events are announced through the Facebook page “Open Movement & Music Jam,” but can also be found on the Lawrence calendar of events. Walking down the hall in Warch to Esch Hurvis, one could already hear the faint sounds of instruments being played. The visuals in the room, though, were a shock compared to the cello music that one heard from afar. On the inside, there were boomwhacker battles going on, with highly dissonant notes of C and D being whacked against each other and Lecturer of Music Loren Dempster lying on his back, wearing his cello over him as he played whatever came to his head. The Open Movement and Music Jam is headed by Dempster and Instructor of Dance Margaret Paek, with their daughter Eleanor Dempster-Paek, 9 years old, joining in as well. Their classes center on collaborative creative work in the arts, and these jams reflect the careful practice of
artistry that they help to instill in their students. Looking around the room, one wouldn’t be able to tell who had walked into the room by happenstance for the first time that day and who had attended every meeting possible since they began. This is because the inhibited idea of dance is figuratively thrown out the wide Esch Hurvis windows. Here, it feels more like a bunch of kids got stuck in the bodies of late teenage people. Some lay still on the ground, each finger in contact with the floor, breathing in and out. Others ran recklessly past from one end of the room to the other. A few were even engaging in a close contact dance with each other, rolling and spinning and laughing as they acted out whatever movement came next to them. People are invited to be just as engaged as they feel they want to. Throughout the jam, the music affected the dancers as well. The boomwhackers were a particular inspiration several more times in this jam. This time, Loren set a leg up on a box and improvised a song that expressed its frustration at their noise and senior Meryl Carson tried to mimic the strange percussive instruments as best as she could on the flute. By the end of the jam, the dancers and musicians in attendance realized that they had been a part of something that was arguably very chaotic, but in a way that was invigorating and joyful. The jam closed with a circle once again, where each person was urged to share what they enjoyed about their experience. Each response was heartening. Then, as people packed up and put on their layers, Dempster-Paek welcomed anyone who wanted to stay to join in her experiment with the boomwhackers.