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K-State Today

August 24, 2020

K-State students venture to Cuba for intensive music and dance learning opportunity

Submitted by Blakely Bunning

Students from the K-State music and dance programs along with faculty and alumni ventured to Havana, Cuba, March 7-14 — pre-COVID lockdown — for a one-week intensive music and dance learning opportunity at the historic National School of Arts, Escuela Nacionál de Artes.

Associate director of music Kurt Gartner traveled with students Peri Carny, senior in music education; Evan Morales, junior in agricultural economics; Masie Dulitz, junior in applied music; and Richard Welch, master's student in music. Joining the students were university distinguished professor and director of jazz studies professor Wayne Goins; alumni Marissa Archuleta, Daniel Dissmore and Olivia Mangual; and emeritus faculty members Stephen Dyer and Ruth Dyer.

During their week in Cuba, the group had daily intensive instruction in their respective areas, participated in ensembles that performed at the end of the week, received lessons on the history, style, arranging techniques and other aspects of Cuban music and dance. Also, there were many concerts and other special events that the group attended.

"Everyone on the trip found the trip to be a tremendous learning experience," Gartner said. "Since the faculty teaching the intensive perform professionally in Havana, several of our people got to see/hear these pros in action on some of their evening performances around the city. Most impressive to me was the amount of 'sitting in' done by Daniel Dissmore, who was a leading student of our jazz program under the direction of Wayne Goins. (Sitting in is when you show up to someone else's performance, ask if you can join the group for a tune or two, then produce — unrehearsed.) Daniel and Marissa were in our Latin Jazz Ensemble when they were students here, while Richard and Evan played on the band last year."

The trip was organized through a "people to people" license with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, via San Francisco-based company Plaza Cuba.

The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is part of the College of Arts and Sciences. The school annually gives more than $500,000 in undergraduate scholarships and graduate scholarships and assistantships. To learn more about the School of Music Theatre, and Dance at K-State, visit k-state.edu/mtd/.