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Rhythm Explosion Explained

Rhythm Explosion is a cooperation of an international group of performers, musicians, choreographers, students, and educators that form a creative community for studying, performing, and creating new work of performing art in Bozeman, Montana.

Check out also this 2010 video of music and tap dance by Katherine Kramer to get a good idea of what it’s all about:

Rhythm Explosion offers a highly supportive atmosphere targeted at fostering the highest possible creative exchange of culture and ideas, focused on the art of dancing to jazz music and related forms.

Students, artists, performers, and audiences are sharing their inspiration and knowledge through classes, discussions, performance workshops, informal showings, video viewings, and performances.

Live musicians accompany/interact with many of the classes, encouraging the traditional exchange in jazz between dancer and musician. Classes are offered for musicians as well. This six-day program offers a dozen daily classes designed for individuals seeking to immerse themselves in an intensive study of jazz-related dance and music forms.

Class size is limited in order to maintain the quality of the learning experience. The workshop enrolls participants, age 12 and older, at a variety of levels. Full-time students participate in an intensive schedule of four – six classes a day. Students also have an opportunity to showcase their own choreography at the closing event.

Sure, not all performances are at the level of, for example, Keb-mo our legendary guitarist/performer, but the festival is definitely worth a visit and a great place to get young people enthusiastic about jazz music.

The workshop is housed in a historic location in the downtown area of Bozeman, surrounded by mountains and big sky – an atmosphere that encourages openness and offers many opportunities for relaxed communication and exchange. All classes and registration: Emerson Cultural Center – 111 S. Grand St. (one block from Main St.) in Bozeman.

Rhythm Explosion has evolved since 1996, from a small workshop, housed in one studio with 4 faculty members and 25 students to a 10-day workshop, housed in 3 studios and a theater, with 13 faculty members and 75 students.

The class offerings have expanded to include not only classic jazz and tap classes, but Modern Dance, Salsa, Swing, Improvisation, Drumming, African, Cuban and Brazilian dance forms, Music for Dance and Performance Workshops.

As well, Rhythm Explosion incorporates a Faculty concert, a Performance/Dance Party which showcases students, and a number of other events which shed light on the history and traditions of these dance forms.



World Music Clinic – A clinic presentation with Lanzallamas Monofonica who uses many musical influences from around the world. The clinic will look into their compositions and how each individual instrument (drums, percussion, violin, trumpet, piano, bass, voice) are combined to form this new sound. All musicians/dancers welcome.

Drumming – Cuban Conga technique, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian Folkloric Music and Rhythms. The roots classes will take students also back to the days of Birdland-the Jazz Corner of the World.

Drumming for Dance – A look into percussion accompaniment for dance. The class will touch on how to’s, possible instruments, expressing movement through percussion and others.

Brazilian Dance – Maculele and Samba – Maculele was a martial dance that was created to celebrate the harvest of the sugar cane fields. It was done with the dried cane that was laid out in the fields before processing to dry.

In the fight against slavery in the early 1600s, the Africans who worked in the cane fields took up their Machetes and escaped to freedom using the basics of this dance. It is like Capoeira in that it was a martial art disguised as a dance. See also this post: The Music of Brasil

Capoeira – combines the various arts of music, fighting, dance, theater and philosophy into what is considered by many to be the most unique and flexible art form in the world today. The class centers not only on learning of instruments, songs, and philosophy of the forms of art but also on the various acrobatic movements like defenses and attacks.

Students will first be taught the traditions, morals, and rituals of the Angola game before heading on to the exciting high kicks and flips. One can take the class for enjoyment and exercise or as a more serious student of Capoeira.


“Playing” Jazz – This class provides an opportunity to dig a bit deeper into the art of dancing to Jazz Music – with or without tap shoes on.

Improvising in Swing – A movement class for musicians and dancers, both tap and non-tap. Exploring the improvisational essence of jazz, and developing techniques for listening and responding with confidence and clarity in order to become better communicators in both dance and music.

Classic Tap Routines – Here’s your chance to finally learn or brush up the classics – Shim Sham Variations, Cole’s Stroll, BS Chorus.

Tap – The Souls of Your Feet – the secrets of technique through the language of tap dance! These classes will focus on techniques for using the whole body to produce a beautiful tone, clear rhythms and a range of dynamics from head to toe. See also this post about when the John Cocuzzi Band almost blew the Glendora Ballroom’s roof off. What a time we had and how much students can learn from these times!


Tap Grooves – This is a very exciting workshop that includes rhythmic tap exercises and choreography exercises in relation to many of the world’s rhythms and exciting music such as Jazz, Cuban, Funk, African…

Tap – High-energy classes for students wanting to take their technique further while having fun working’ out rhythms to a variety of contemporary grooves and tunes. You’ll be expected to indulge in all your movement and sound, body and soul. Bring a laugh in your pocket and be ready to rock.

Body Percussion


Casino Rueda – This class will focus on a specific Cuban form of Salsa, where one or more couples dance together in a circle. “Rueda” means “wheel” and “Casino” is known outside of Cuba as “Salsa.” It is a fun and interactive way to learn Salsa. Sign up individually or with a partner, and be prepared to dive into the dimensions of the Salsa phenomenon.

Afro-Modern-Jazz – This class will use the African Diaspora language of movement, as a  springboard for Afro-Modern-Jazz, which incorporates the influences of  Jack Cole, Katherine Dunham, Syvilla Fort, Bob Fosse, and Luigi; to give it pulse and progression of style and grace, as well as honoring their history and contributions.

Jazz – This swinging modern jazz technique class begins with a thorough and holistically constructed warm-up for the body. Students work within their own “turnout” without forcing the knees, hips or ankles into an unnatural or painful position, while working on proper body alignment for execution of turns, etc… Interesting is also our interview with Kellylee Evans, the world-famous Canadian Soul and Blues singer.

Combinations across the floor include jazz material incorporating grand battements and a variety of turns and leaps. The center combination is designed to work the students on jazz styles, professional execution and performance quality of the material as well as just having fun!

These courses will explore the dialogue between jazz music and dance, the concepts of swing, improvisation and the transformation of the body into a rhythmically articulate musical instrument.

Yoga – Vigorous, yet relaxing, these classes will offer both individual and partnered exploration of poses tailored to enhance the dancer’s endurance


Hip Tap Project – Advanced beginning tap and other dance forms. A repertory, high energy, accessible dance workshop blending body percussion and movement, influenced by rhythm tap, hip hop, funk, salsa and body drumming.

Latin Fusion – Beginning and Intermediate dancers.
This workshop will tap into the rhythms of Latin Jazz and the possibilities of partnering. The creative process will include improvisation and construction of rhythmic dialogues within the ensemble. Movement material will include elements of both vernacular and popular forms of Cuban and Puerto Rican dance and music forms (Rumba, Salsa, Casino Rueda, Bomba, Plena, Mambo, and Cha-Cha-Cha).

The Essence of Jazz Tap Dancing – Advanced tap dancers.
This workshop will include a swinging tap workout, an understanding of body placement, movement, rhythm, and dynamics. Dancers are helped to fine-tune their individual styles and improvisational capabilities as they explore fascinating rhythms from jazz basics to bebop and beyond

Afro-Modern-Jazz – This incorporates the dancers’ knowledge of movement, of their own kinetic design, which is free and organic; using tools that are structured through visual and sensory exercises. Moreover, each class will be guided in terms of creating a final work, that matches the coolness and improvisatory elements of jazz.