JazzXchange’s mission is to use the principles of jazz performance to empower communities to embrace and celebrate innovation.
In 1992 after Dr. S Ama Wray’s first trip to New York JazzXchange music and dance company was born; the vision was simple, to bring jazz music back into alignment with dance. Live jazz music meant that the dancers had to improvise and this is exactly what they pursued. In 1999 after an introduction to Wynton Marsalis and a subsequent Lucky for Some collaboration with his septet at London’s Barbican Center it became abundantly clear that to truly realize the vision of JazzXchange it was necessary to bring this vision to the US.
Ten years on after commissioning and touring collaborations with musicians including Derek Bermel, Gary Crosby, Bobby McFerrin, Julian Joseph and Byron Wallen, Sheron joined the faculty at the University of California, Irvine. Here in the USA the renewal of jazz dance and music inspired reaching deep into its epic memory. Subsequently she initiated The Ghana Project, an interdisciplinary research project including five different UCI schools and the Institute of African studies at the University of Ghana. From the seventeen students that went on the inaugural trip to Ghana in 2010 six of them came together with Sheron to bring a new international vision of JazzXchange to life.
Beginning in 2013, our mission developed into using the principles of jazz performance to empower communities to embrace and celebrate innovation. The artificial barriers between dance styles such as jazz, tap, breakdance, contemporary, African, are removed since they all emit from the same creative force, the language of the drum.
Now here, in America JazzXchange aims to fully realize the development of live and digital performance, beginning right here in Orange County. The award winning Texterritory, co-created by Wray is a digital performance platform, created during her NESTA fellowship, grants the audience access to participate in the improvisation through technology. Via their cell phones they can impact the performance through their thoughts, feelings, actions and even changing bodily chemistry – the improvisation is total and part of making the creativity of jazz felt.