Students Will ‘Feel Like Dancing’ at River Campus



May 23, 2007 – If you’re lucky enough to be a dancer at Southeast Missouri State University when River Campus opens this fall, you’ll have the best view in the house, according to Lees Hummel, assistant professor of dance and choreography in Southeast’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

“One side of the dance studio is all windows, which overlook the river and the bridge,” Hummel said. “The view is just gorgeous.”

The natural light and the view combined with the studio’s technical features create a wonderful atmosphere for dance students, according to Hummel.

“It feels like a nice space to be moving around in,” she said. “You feel lighter; it makes you feel like dancing.”

While the view may be the most obvious of the studio’s features, it’s only icing on the cake.

High-quality floors and sound are the two most important aspects of a good dance studio, according to Hummel, and the new dance studio at River Campus will have both.

“You’ve got to have a good floor and you’ve got to be able to hear your music,” Hummel said.

The studio, which is adjacent to the flexible theatre in the performance building, will feature a custom-constructed, “sprung” floor. Sprung floors have some “give” in them to protect the dancers’ legs and feet from shin splints and other injuries, according to Hummel. This is accomplished by using special building techniques to raise the dance floor two to four inches rather than placing it directly on the concrete floor, she said.

“Most all good dance studios have sprung floors,” Hummel said.

The current studio in Parker Hall has a sprung floor, albeit a portable version.

“The floor in the new studio will be permanent and will be better quality,” Hummel said. “It will be quite nice.”

The studio’s updated sound system will offer more options for dance students and faculty, as well as providing the technology that touring dance companies, who will use the space for rehearsals and warm-ups, will expect, she said.

The studio is flexible as well, providing performance space in addition to classroom and rehearsal space.

“We have grids to hang lights, risers for seating and curtains to cover the mirrors,” Hummel said. “It is easily turned into a performance space for approximately 125 people. We are planning to do the student-choreographed dance concert in the studio this fall.”

The Fall Dance Concert, which showcases the creative and sometimes avant-garde inspirations of aspiring student choreographers’ works-in-progress, will run Nov. 8 to 10 in the River Campus dance studio.

The close proximity of the dance studio to both the Bedell Performance Hall and the Rust Flexible Theatre is another advantage, Hummel says.

“Having the studio next door to both performance spaces is very convenient,” she said. “We don’t have to haul our props to another building across campus and travel between our rehearsal and production space. It makes the production aspect much easier.”

Having space designated and designed for their function also will make things easier, Hummel says.

“Having access to the studio 24/7 without having to work around other departments’ schedules will make it easier to hold night and weekend rehearsals,” she said.

Hummel is looking forward to being part of the River Campus.

“Having a whole complex and campus dedicated to the arts is beneficial to all different areas of art,” she said. “We can easily mingle with each other, and it will be easier for all of us to appreciate each other’s art forms than it is with us scattered in different buildings all across campus. The arts are always abstract, and it’s difficult trying to fit how students learn those art forms into a regular collegiate university setting. Training for the arts is very different from training for mainstream academia. Having a campus dedicated to the arts is going to bring more students wanting to seriously train in these areas to Southeast.

“River Campus is going to be a special place in Missouri,” Hummel predicts. “It will solidify Cape as a town that supports the arts and it will bring a lot of energy and excitement to the area.”