Having just been ranked one of the top dance programs in the nation, the University of Memphis department of theatre & dance kicked off its fall season with “Small Mouth Sounds” over the weekend. The department is excited to announce “Inherit the Wind” and “Emma” as the upcoming shows in the fall schedule.

Angela Shultz, director of “Emma,” said she is looking forward to another successful lineup of shows and can’t wait for people to see them.

“When shows are completed, I get mixed feelings because we are proud of the work we have done,” Shultz said. “But at the same time, it is a big relief for me because of the hard work and amount of time that gets put into it and seeing it finished.”

Shultz also said that completing a production is difficult because of the relationships that come to an end after many long days and nights. She said the bonds formed between students and faculty, front and backstage, are crucial to a show’s success and when a new show comes along with new a cast those bonds need to reform quickly.

Onstage Blog, an online dance blog, listed Memphis in their Top 30 College Dance Programs for 2019-20 on Sept. 9. The blog said that the Memphis’ program was one of the best for their incorporation of kinesiology, biomechanics, nutrition and phycology into their dance curriculum. Onstage Blog also factored in criteria including costs versus scholarships, quality of facilities and security.

In a press release to the university, Dr. Anne Hogan expressed her excitement by complementing the department for being held to the same standard and honor as prestigious and notable dance schools like NYU Tisch School of Arts, Juilliard and North Carolina School of the Arts.

“I am delighted that our dance program has been recognized for excellence in the company of the best dance departments in the nation,” Hogan said. “I am very proud of the work of our talented facility and students in the UofM dance program.”

Danica Thomas, a UofM sophomore who attends multiple shows a season, said she was not surprised when she found out about their ranking because of the type of performances she has witnessed as an audience member.

“It’s very deserving that they got this great achievement because dance is not as easy as some people make it out to be,” Thomas said. “It is a great payoff for all the work that gets put in, and I am happy that they are getting the recognition they deserve as a department.”

Thomas said her elementary and middle school play background had fostered a deep appreciation for college students that commit their lives to theater and dance because it is one of the most demanding and underappreciated commitments.

“Inherit the Wind” will play Oct. 24-26 and Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the UofM theater building. Entry is free for UofM students and one guest. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and non-UofM students, and $5 for high school students.

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