Dancing Degree Takes Step Forward at MTSU

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The first class of dance majors pursuing a bachelor of science degree at a public university in Tennessee will begin studying at MTSU this fall.

As a prelude to this degree track, assistant professor Meg Brooker will guide three MTSU dance students through a multifaceted performance at the People's Friendship University of Russia in Moscow May 14 and 15.

The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the new degree track as one of its final actions prior to relinquishing governance of MTSU to its new Board of Trustees.

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Twenty-two people registered for auditions in August, and 18 were accepted. An audition is a prerequisite for admission to the program.

"Students will study a combination of different levels of technique classes, dance history and theory, theories around kinesiology and anatomy and healthy training for the body, as well as choreography and improvisation," said Brooker.

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One degree track will focus on performance and choreography, and the other will concentrate on pedagogy and practice.

Dance faculty, who include assistant professor Marsha Barsky and lecturer Michelle Parkins, in addition to Brooker, will work with students to establish contacts early in their collegiate careers to help them make a smooth transition to professional dancing, dance instruction or choreography after graduation.

The dance majors also will benefit from working in MTSU Dance Theatre, a preprofessional undergraduate dance company that performs each semester in Tucker Theatre on the MTSU campus.

"Students have the opportunity to be in two fully produced concerts every year, which is quite exciting," said Brooker.

The students who will perform in Russia will have a bit of an edge by displaying their talents in the home of the world-renowned Bolshoi and Kirov ballet troupes.

In addition to their on-stage work, the students will conduct research into the nature of contemporary dance in Russia today. The Soviet Union's approach to the lively arts put a chill on dance innovation there during the Cold War.

"Some of the ideas that dancers were working with experimentally in the West in the 1960s are ideas that Russian dancers only began exploring in the late 1980s and the early 1990s," Brooker said.

The MTSU entourage will be in country through May 23. For more information on the new dance degree or the MTSU Dance Theatre, go to http://www.mtsu.edu/theatreanddance/. Contact Brooker at 615-898-5023 or margaret.brooker@mtsu.edu, or Barsky at 615-898-5023 or marsha.barsky@mtsu.edu.

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