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MTSU dancers bring peace, freedom, protest to life...

MTSU dancers bring peace, freedom, protest to life in virtual Fall Dance Concert

Student members of the MTSU Dance Theatre perform on the Tucker Theatre stage during the 2019 Fall Dance Concert in this file photo. MTSU Dance will present its 2020 Fall Dance Concert Saturday, Nov. 21, via video at the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)

Students and faculty in Tennessee’s only full dance degree program are bringing themes of peace, freedom, protest, technology and identity to the screen Saturday, Nov. 21, with special guests and a special guest artist at their virtual Fall Dance Concert, “Screendance.”

MTSU senior dance major Jordyn Hill of Knoxville, Tennessee, reaches skyward on the Tucker Theatre stage during the 2019 Fall Dance Concert in this poster for the 2020 Fall Dance Concert. The MTSU Dance Theatre will present its 2020 Fall Dance Concert Saturday, Nov. 21, via video at the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)

Click on the poster to see a larger image.

The MTSU Dance Theatre’s Fall Dance Concert will be streamed free via video at the program’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Central Nov. 21.

The evening’s performances by MTSU’s pre-professional company will showcase faculty, student and guest choreography and features dancers of diverse abilities, thanks to this fall’s collaboration with guest artist Silva Laukkanen and six different dance groups, including members of the Borderless Arts Tennessee troupe.

A grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission allowed MTSU dancers to work remotely with Laukkanen, Borderless Arts and Art Spark Texas for three weeks to create a dance focusing on peace.

The result, simply titled “Peace,” honors the late arts education activist Jean Kennedy Smith, founder of VSA, an international organization on arts and disabilities.

Laukkanen, director of integrated dance for Austin-based Art Spark Texas, called the experience with the MTSU and Borderless Arts teams “wonderful” and a “strange juxtaposition” of new opportunities to collaborate, create and dance together with dancers of all abilities.

“On the one hand I feel happy and excited to see the work, but, on the other hand, I feel the sense of loss that we are not in a big dance space all together moving, talking, exchanging ideas, and dancing,” Laukkanen writes in a blog post on Art Spark Texas’ website.

“On the plus side, I’m getting more used to this virtual platform, and I recognize the accessibility and what it has done to break isolation for people with disabilities. There will be a virtual component in our work from this point on, but I’m also looking forward to being in-person in the dance and creative spaces with people.”

Silva Laukkanen, director of integrated dance for Art Spark Texas and the MTSU Dance Theatre fall 2020 guest artist

Silva Laukkanen

Art Spark Texas and Borderless Arts Tennessee provide and promote arts programming, inclusivity and accessibility in schools and communities across each state.

Additional performances in this fall’s MTSU dance concert, presented by MTSU Arts, include:

• “Dance of Freedom,” choreographed by associate professor Meg Brooker, MTSU Dance Theatre director. The dance focuses on voting rights and social activism, using historic choreography and paying tribute to dancer Florence Fleming Noyes and her 1914 solo “Dance of Freedom” embodying the women’s suffrage struggle.

• Dance lecturer Jade Treadwell’s “Fists in the Air,” inspired by the power of gestures like the iconic human-rights demonstration at the 1968 Olympics medal ceremony, the peaceful protests from the 1960s U.S. civil rights movement and the Black Lives Matter events of today.

• Dance instructor Laurel Walker’s “Leitmotif,” a continuation of a fall 2019 dance exploring humans’ obsession with technology. This presentation depicts humanity’s need to loosen the tether from their devices.

• “Clique,” created by MTSU alumnus and adjunct instructor Aaron Allen Jr., a two-part work inspired by the New York underground ball scene in the 1970s and 1980s that explores identity, community and mourning in the House dance style.

• Student choreographer Joshua Dailey’s “Intuitions,” which reflects on the challenges faced during quarantine and the virtual outlets we use to manage our busy minds.

Student members of the MTSU Dance Theatre perform on the Tucker Theatre stage during the 2019 Fall Dance Concert in this file photo. MTSU Dance will present its 2020 Fall Dance Concert Saturday, Nov. 21, via video at the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)

Student members of the MTSU Dance Theatre perform on the Tucker Theatre stage during the 2019 Fall Dance Concert in this file photo. MTSU Dance will present its 2020 Fall Dance Concert Saturday, Nov. 21, via video at the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)

MTSU offers the only full Bachelor of Science degree in dance at any public university in Tennessee.

MTSU Theatre and Dance logoThe degree track, launched in fall 2017, allows students to study a combination of different levels of technique classes, dance history and theory, theories around kinesiology, anatomy and healthy training for the body, as well as choreography and improvisation.

One course of study focuses on performance and choreography, while the other track concentrates on pedagogy and practice.

For more information about MTSU’s dance program, part of the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Liberal Arts or the  MTSU Dance Theatre, call 615-904-8051, email dance@mtsu.edu, or visit www.mtsu.edu/dance.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU senior dance major Jordyn Hill of Knoxville, Tennessee, reaches skyward on the Tucker Theatre stage during the 2019 Fall Dance Concert in this file photo. The MTSU Dance Theatre will present its 2020 Fall Dance Concert Saturday, Nov. 21, via video at the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)

MTSU senior dance major Jordyn Hill of Knoxville, Tennessee, reaches skyward on the Tucker Theatre stage during the 2019 Fall Dance Concert in this file photo. The MTSU Dance Theatre will present its 2020 Fall Dance Concert Saturday, Nov. 21, via video at the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsu.dance. (Photo by Martin O’Connor)


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