Photo Gallery: Jookin’ Jam Session Headlines Campaign Kickoff Weekend With Verve

Special artistic collaboration, featuring student performers, enlivens Dinand Library

On Friday, April 29, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees gathered in Dinand Library’s Main Reading Room for a one-of-a-kind performance by worldwide dance phenomenon Charles “Lil Buck” Riley and Holy Cross’ former Arts Transcending Borders (ATB) artist-in-residence, Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato.

This collaborative show was the headlining event for the College’s “Become More: Campaign for the Future of Holy Cross” kickoff weekend. It was cosponsored by ATB and the Office of Advancement, in conjunction with the 2016 Academic Conference.

Hosted by acclaimed director Damian Woetzel — credited with introducing Lil Buck and his style of dance, jookin’, to the world by pairing him with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a video performance that went viral in 2011 — the show featured international musicians Victor Prieto (accordion), Jan Muller-Szeraws (cello), Edward Perez (bass) and Marcus Santos (percussion), in addition to Pato (bagpipes and piano).

The program also showcased four talented Holy Cross students, Kalif Raymond ’16, Ameer Phillips ’17, Hannah Comeau ’18 and Carmela Clave ’19, who put their dance skills to the test alongside Lil Buck.

“Performing with Lil Buck has been the highlight of my semester,” says Phillips, who has been following the dancer for years. “Having the opportunity to not only meet with him but also perform with him on the same stage was somewhat like a dream come true.”

“It always feels good dancing with the student performers,” says Lil Buck, a longtime advocate for arts education. “It’s invigorating — getting a chance to work with [them] and sharing this gift and passing it on.”

Identified by its extremely intricate footwork, propensity for improvisation and fluidity of movement — Buck is often described as “gliding” across the floor — jookin’ is a dance style native to Memphis, Tenn. When paired with traditional music from such places as Galicia and Argentina, the result is, according to audience member Emma O’Leary ’18, “mesmerizing.”

“The arts have a way of telling things that words cannot explain,” says Pato. “They connect to you in powerful, emotional ways.”

For more information on the campaign, please visit the campaign website:

Written by Rebecca Smith ’99 & Kim Staley ’99

Related information: