At the end of 2001, Southeast Missouri State University merged its new dance program with its well-established theater curriculum to create a new Department of Theater and Dance. The goal was to integrate the two art forms as part of the university's new School for the Visual and Performing Arts.
Last weekend's "Full Tilt 2004" repertory dance concert was astonishing proof of how far this idea has come and the artistry that can result.
In past years the dance concert has presented both skilled dancers and earnest students trying hard to keep up. The student dancers in "Full Tilt 2004" seemed to have made a quantum leap in confidence, agility and expressiveness.
The concert also drew more than ever before from the talents of dance professors, music professors, theater professors, art professors and students, who choreographed four of the dances and danced in them all.
Music students sang in a doo-wop chorus directed by music professor Dr. Steve Hendricks to accompany Dr. Marc Strauss' charming "Blue Moon." Art professor Paul Schock choreographed, directed, costumed and created the set for the quirkily humorous performance piece "Tugboat."
Art professor Pat Reagan's beautiful silk fabrics flowed above the dancers in Josephine Zmolek's "Anticipatory Illumination," an Eastern meditation with haunting and exciting music composed by Dr. Robert Fruehwald of the music department.
Zmolek's husband, Paul Zmolek, coordinated the concert and choreographed the breathtaking "Not Yet Become," in which six dancers in camouflage leotards flew and spun about the stage as if Southeast Missouri State University dancers always knew they could be this good.