MTSU will usher in the first Bachelor of Science degree in dance at any Tennessee public university this fall with a wealth of experience gleaned from a recent trip to Russia.
Assistant professor Meg Brooker and students Amber Jordan, Rachel Miller and Ginny Whaley attended classes and workshops by top Russian dancers at various locations around Moscow and viewed ballet at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre in May.
The first part of their trip was devoted to 20th-century dance, while the group spent the last half discovering modern dance practices. Brooker chronicled the group’s experiences in the July 2017 issue of “Dance Teacher” magazine.
“As a university dance professor, I want to provide my students with unforgettable and inspiring experiences,” Brooker wrote. “I have made numerous research and performance trips to Moscow in the last 10 years. Here was an opportunity to introduce (MTSU) dancers to a vital art scene in a major global capital.”
The students took classes in musical movement, a practice created by Russians and inspired by American modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan. They also danced Duncan’s “Dance of the Furies” and “Bacchanal,” as well as some Brahms waltzes, at the Isadora Duncan Dance Festival.
After the festival, the MTSU dancers attended classes with Russian masters, including work in ballet and contact improvisation. They also learned techniques in butoh, a Japanese dance style inspired by post-World War II devastation and the nation’s subsequent industrialization.
“Dance is a vibrant lens through which to examine the cultural relationship between Russia and the United States,” Brooker wrote. “Cultural exchange, especially through dance, is an important platform for sharing ideas and inspiration.”
The MTSU entourage viewed three separate performances, including the 1965 Yuri Grigorovich ballet “A Legend of Love” at the Bolshoi.
“Any Moscow dance journey must include a visit to the Bolshoi Theatre, and I was excited for my students to see a Soviet-era ballet with high production value,” Brooker wrote.
The People’s Friendship University of Russia funded the MTSU group’s visas, room and board. An MTSU research grant covered other expenses.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to give three MTSU dancers a glimpse of dance as a cultural force in Russia, and I hope to offer more university dance students this opportunity in the future,” wrote Brooker.
For more information on MTSU’s new dance degree or the MTSU Dance Theatre, go to www.mtsu.edu/dance or contact Brooker at 615-898-5023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina K. Logue (email@example.com)