In a 9-day-whirlwind trip of big-hair, funky dance moves and even funkier ‘80s music, the Eastern Oregon University music department danced and sang their way across southeast Alaska. They entertained communities, provided workshops for high school students and promoted EOU as the college to attend for the Arts.
Though the music department is exceptionally talented and able to meet any obstacle head on, they did make a few adjustments while on tour.
Danny Bailey said, “One of my favorite parts of the show was that each concert was a completely different venue. We’d walk in the morning (of the show) and it was like ‘Oh! That’s our stage! The gym floor!’ or ‘Oh! That’s our stage; it’s twice as large for the band and no dance room for us.’” He continued, “So we never really knew what we were getting until we got there and with 60 to 80 people on stage at once; it was pretty impressive how we did it.”
Malorie Livingston said, “You just have to be able to adapt on the road. It’s not bad it’s not good, it’s just different. Those are the kind of adjustments we had to make.”
The music department also found that working with high-school aged students can be simultaneously entertaining and difficult.
Daniel Wagner said, “The experiences at the high schools went a lot better than most of us expected. They were really receptive to it and energetic about what we were bringing.”
Julia Cieslak said, “The biggest struggle working with the students was getting them motivated. A lot of the students weren’t used to performing— doing the dances and singing—if they weren’t singing we had to remind them to be moving and looking like they were having a good time rather than standing in stock choir stance.”
While on tour, the ‘80s Rewind cast was able to enjoy much of the natural bounty that Alaska offers. They enjoyed a 26 hour ferry ride in which internet and texting was not available. Instead, they spent their time playing cards, visiting with one another and enjoying the scenery. Matt Deboodt said, “We were basically sent back to the ‘80s the entire ferry ride.”
Malorie Livingston said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska and I finally got the chance. We went up there and I thought it was really cool, even though it’s also America it’s still like a totally different country and a total different culture experience.”
On a whim, Livingston applied for a job to work with behavioral youth, taking them on mountain tours for 48 days. “I applied on the fly, in my sweat pants! And nobody cared. That’s the difference in culture there,” she said.
When Alaskan natives took the cast on a boat cruise to see sea lions, they were treated to another great Alaskan experience. “Because we were such a small group, we just kept going. They took us to a place where there was the highest bald eagle population in the world, so I started counting. There were hundreds. In one minute, I counted 27,” Livingston said.
The EOU music department would like to see more trips such as the Alaska trip funded. Students discussed how successfully they promoted EOU’s Art department and how much the communities themselves enjoyed the shows.
Erin Rufener said, “I loved how the communities accepted us and not just the high schools. It was a really big deal. In Wrangell, we were the social event of the year!”