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Dance explores diversity in ‘Exodus Project II’ Jan. 24-25

Topics ranging from biracial identity to physical disabilities will be explored through movement as MTSU Theatre and Dance presents “The Exodus Project II: Understanding Diversity Through Dance” next week.

The performance will run two nights, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24-25, at Tucker Theatre inside the Boutwell Performing Arts Building on the MTSU campus.

The nationally recognized MTSU Dance Program has a commitment to multicultural and interdisciplinary education and sponsoring this dance concert is in line with fulfilling that mission, organizers say.

The concert will present works examining physical disabilities, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality, according to Professor Kim Neal Nofsinger, director of dance and artistic director of the MTSU Dance Theatre.

“The theme of each dance deals with diversity in a different way,” said Nofsinger, adding that some topics examine “mature subject matter” such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Included will be performances by Stefanie Batten Bland of Company Stefanie Batten Bland in New York City; Amy Shelley and Angie Simmons of Evolving Doors Dance in Denver, Colo.; and seven members of the MTSU Dance Theatre.

Bland will perform a piece called “Weight,” which examines her biracial identity. “What is the weight of your cultural identity?” Nofsinger said of Bland’s dance. “How does that hold you back or keep you down, or does that keep you grounded?”

Performing as a special guest with Nofsinger will be Bethany Hoppe, a faculty member in the Department of Speech and Theatre who has used a wheelchair her whole life.

Following the performance will be an audience discussion facilitated by Dr. Maura Keefe, who is chairwoman of dance at The College at Brockport at the State University of New York, the Scholar in Residence at Jacob’s Pillow Dance in Massachusetts and “one of the top arts scholars in nation,” Nofsinger said.

The concert is made possible with funding from Black History Month, the Tennessee Board of Regents Diversity and Access Grant and the Distinguished Lecture Fund.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, and MTSU students are admitted free with ID. The Tucker Theatre Box Office will open one hour before each evening’s performance.

For additional information, contact Nofsinger at kim.nofsinger@mtsu.edu. For more information about the MTSU Dance Theatre, visit www.mtsu.edu/dance/dancetheatre.php.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)