Striding towards graduation
In order to graduate, two South Tahoe High School seniors are taking the stage at Lake Tahoe Community College.
Tiffany Bashaw and Jonathan Goldman are participating in the college’s March production of “Ain’t Misbehavin'” for their senior projects.
In addition to final exams, 12th-graders at South Tahoe High are required to complete a senior project before receiving a diploma.
Senior projects are aimed at providing students an opportunity to explore an area of interest through hands-on experience and research. Students may choose topics relating to career, academics, recreation, arts or personal development. Once topics are approved, students must complete 15 work hours with an adult who is knowledgeable in the chosen field. In addition, seniors must research and write a lengthy paper and present their projects to a panel of judges, demonstrating what they learned.
Bashaw, 16, chose dance as the topic of her project. She auditioned for “Ain’t Misbehavin'” at LTCC in January and was cast in one of 12 dancing roles.
“I started dancing about five years ago,” Bashaw said. “I do a lot of jazz and that’s why this play was really interesting to me, because it’s a lot of swing music and I’ve never done that before. It’s different.”
The youngest member in the cast, Bashaw said she was a bit intimidated during the first few rehearsals.
“It was a little scary because I felt that I was really young,” she said. “I’ve never done a college production. It’s sort of a more professional atmosphere. But I’m really enjoying it. I really like the people. The people are fun.”
LTCC dance instructor Rexanne Ring-Harris is Bashaw’s mentor.
“She rocks. She has lots of enthusiasm,” Ring-Harris said of Bashaw. “She doesn’t miss any rehearsals. She’s very responsible.
“It’s neat because she’s getting to broaden her dance horizons, participating in a college-level performance. It gives her a chance to work with some older people, who have a different kind of attitude. It’s all adult, no nonsense, get in there and do it. Plus, it’s a nice run of seven shows and she gets a chance to perform to live music.”
Rehearsals count as work hours for Bashaw’s project.
“We spend many hours dancing, learning choreography and trying to perfect it,” she said. “My product for the judges is the video of the production and I’m doing my paper on different types of dance, their cultures and how they affect society from when they began to present day.”
Goldman, 17, is playing piano in the show’s six-piece band. Fats Waller, who wrote the score for “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, used stride piano in his music. A technically difficult style, the term comes from the action of the left hand, which supplies a constant beat against a melodious right hand.
“It’s very tough,” Goldman said. “It’s a bit like ragtime, but a little bit embellished. Your left hand has to be playing these solid chords really fast and your hand is just jumping around. You can’t even think about it. That left hand has to just be doing its own thing.”
Goldman started playing piano at age 4 and later took up the trumpet. He’s the lead trumpet player in Alan Ginter’s jazz band at South Tahoe High.
Playing 1930’s jazz with the show’s band at the college was a different experience for Goldman.
“The first day was intimidating because I knew I’d be the only kid there,” he said. “I knew I could handle it eventually but the first rehearsal was two days after I got the music so I was sight-reading, essentially. It was really tough but I worked my butt off on it.”
Goldman said he likes being on stage and is glad to be a member of the “Ain’t Misbehavin'” band.
“They’re fantastic people,” he said of his fellow musicians. “They’re really good. There’s a whole range of players. The trombone player plays with Brian Farnon’s band and the trumpet player is pretty young. The main thing is all of the people in the band, we’re all there because we enjoy it. It’s just really fun.”