The first class of majors pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in dance at a public university in Tennessee will begin studying at MTSU this fall.
The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the new degree track in the College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Theatre and Dance as one of its final actions this year before relinquishing governance of MTSU to its new Board of Trustees. Dance has been offered as a minor at MTSU since the program was established in 2000 within the then-Department of Speech and Theatre.
Twenty-two people registered for auditions in August, and 18 were accepted. Students must audition to be admitted to the new bachelor’s degree 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 assistant professor Meg Brooker.
One degree track will focus on performance and choreography; the other will concentrate on pedagogy and practice.
Dance faculty members, which include assistant professor Marsha Barsky and lecturer Michelle Parkins, will work with students to establish contacts early in their collegiate careers to help them make a smooth post-graduation transition to professional dancing, dance instruction or choreography.
The dance majors also will benefit from working in MTSU Dance Theatre, a preprofessional undergraduate dance company that performs each semester in the university’s Tucker Theatre.
“Students have the opportunity to be in two fully produced concerts every year, which is quite exciting,” said Brooker.
To help showcase the new degree program and the students who’ve already been developing their gifts in the department, 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 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 contemporary dance in Russia and how it’s changed 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 Russia through May 23.
For more information on the new dance degree or the MTSU Dance Theatre, go to www.mtsu.edu/dance. Contact Brooker at 615-898-5023 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Barsky at 615-898-5023 or email@example.com. You also can listen to a recent “MTSU On the Record” conversation about the new dance degree above.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)