Missouri State University
Arts & Letters Expressions
An online publication for the alumni and friends of the College of Arts and Letters

Dance student studying abroad in Israel blogs about experience

Brittney Banaei, a senior dance major, recently earned a spot at the Rothberg International School’s DanceJerusalem program. She landed in Israel in late August, and has been documenting her journey on her blog “An American Dancer in Israel.”


Brittney Banaei. Photo submitted.

This is a preview of her first entry, where we get a peek into the life of a study away student:

Man with AK47 Walks Donkey and Other Travel Highlights

It is Thursday night in Israel, which is like Friday night in the US. Our studies are done for the week and now we are all taking some hard-won downtime.

I’m sitting in my modest (but cute!) dorm room and writing this entry, wondering how in the world I’m going to relay to you the magic that is Jerusalem.

I wanted to tell you all about my first week, academics, dance, new friends, etc., but I think that is too much to read in one sitting. I will tell you that I had my first (language immersion) class today and all feels right with the world.

So here is the story of my journey …

Read more about Brittney’s intriguing two-day journey from the U.S. to Jerusalem, and her first few days in Israel on her blog, “An American Dancer in Israel.”

Brittney flew standby and lucked into a first-class seat to Tel-Aviv. Photo submitted.
In her post, Brittney describes her two-hour shuttle bus ride to Jerusalem, which included a man with an AK47 walking a donkey. Photo submitted.
"I arrived at the student village in-tact and un-puked. I got all checked in (thank you housing office for staying open), spilled coffee all over myself, had several incoherent (it’s not you, it’s me) conversations with strangers and unpacked my stuff." Photo submitted.
On her first morning in Jerusalem: "My open window brought in the crisp breeze along with drifting the tones of morning call to prayer and a stunning sunrise view." Photo submitted.

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Cast your vote at the Manhattan Short Film Festival

The Manhattan Short Film Festival is coming back to Missouri State at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 in Plaster Student Union Theatre. 

People from all over the world gather in over 250 cities come together for this global film festival where they vote on their favorite film.

How does it work?

Viewers will be given a ballot upon arrival that they will fill out at the end of the 10 films, participating in the instantaneous celebration occurring in over 300 cities around the globe during the span of a week. Votes are tallied by each cinema and sent to the festival headquarters. The winner will be announced Oct. 6.

Directed by Romain Quirot, "The Last Journey of the Enigmatic Paul W.R." is a French film that follows astronaut Paul WR, mankind's only hope of salvation, as he prepares to go to space. Mysteriously, a few hours before the mission launch, Paul has disappeared.

Manhattan Film Festival finalist: “The Last Journey of the Enigmatic Paul W.R.,” directed by Romain Quirot


Cost is $10 at the door. Proceeds benefit the media, journalism and film department‘s Digital Film Production Scholarship.

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Join MSU’s journey to become an All-Steinway School

Many changes are on the horizon for students as Missouri State continues its push to overhaul the facilities and accommodations the music department offers. The Steinway Initiative is key to that plan.

What does it mean to be an All-Steinway School?

The Steinway Initiative will pave the way for Missouri State to become an All-Steinway school, a prestigious designation given to those institutions that only carry Steinway & Sons pianos.

This will ensure that music students will have the best pianos at their fingertips to learn and practice. It is an endeavor supported by the university, the Missouri State University Foundation, the College of Arts and Letters and the music department.

How are we able to purchase the pianos?

Music students’ lesson fees have already purchased 10 Steinway-built Boston upright pianos and one Boston 7-foot grand. And thanks to a generous gift by Sam Hamra, chairman of Hamra Enterprises, the university recently purchased its first new Steinway grand piano.

“Mr. Hamra’s generosity will provide the industry standard in grand pianos for not just our piano majors to perform on,” said Dr. Julie Combs, head of the music department. “Every music student who performs a junior degree recital or takes part in a master class will also be accompanied by this instrument.”


Combs said an estate gift this year from Al and Rosemond Clapp will also help secure the All-Steinway designation: “They love their Steinway grand piano and want to be sure it is re-homed at a later time.”

Why do we want Steinway?

Combs said becoming an All-Steinway School demonstrates MSU’s dedication to making certain students have the opportunity to learn on the gold standard of instruments. This will help in recruiting efforts, as well.

“Great teachers, facilities, and equipment are major factors in students choosing a music school,” she said. “We have the great teachers; our facilities are going to be renovated, and we are aiming to replace our piano inventory. These steps will help with our recruiting and retention and move the MSU music department to a new and higher level.”

Where can I learn more and play a Steinway?

You can learn more about Steinway’s hand-crafted pianos by playing one and hearing the story of its creation. Come to our exhibition on Sept. 17 and 18. There, you’ll watch a short film to see a Steinway piano disassembled and hear the story of its quality and creation told. You will also be able to play the Steinway L1037 piano.

Piece by Piece: The Secrets of Steinway Exhibition

Date: Sept. 17 & 18
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Location: Wehr Band Hall

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MSU Talks hosts debate on two-party system

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Missouri State debate team will host an open-forum MSU Talks debate on whether the U.S. should keep its two-party system or explore expanding into multiple parties.

The debate is part of MSU’s Public Affairs Week. Once the debaters present their arguments, attendees are encouraged to participate in the discussion by sharing their ideas and opinions.

Want to come?

Date: Sept. 13
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Meyer Library 101

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MJF alumnus works third Olympics

By the time Brad Woodall entered Missouri State, he knew what he wanted. His dad worked at KY3 for more than 30 years, so he learned technical media skills at a young age.

“I grew up in that environment and knew early on that’s what I was going to do,” Woodall said.


He studied mass media and found his courses in organizational communications and marketing especially helpful for collaborating on deadline.

“You could be meeting with a group of people you could be working with for the first time, with the common goal of getting the show on the air,” Woodall said.

As a student, he began working as a technical director for Mediacom. He covered Bears men’s and women’s basketball games for six years. He graduated in 2007 and continued securing other freelance jobs.

Working at the Olympics

Now he primarily works for NBC, CBS and FOX and has worked at the past three Olympic Games: in London, Sochi and Rio. During the most recent Olympics, Woodall worked as a technical director for gymnastic events and the closing ceremony.

“In laymen’s terms, anytime you’re watching a live sporting event and something changes on the screen, I’m doing that.”

He follows directions from the director and producer, who’ve decided how to present events based on storylines. He implements the stories on the technical side.


Sometimes the story changes, like during the men’s gymnastics floor exercises in Rio: “Two Brazilians medaled — and they didn’t ever expect to be medaling. A person falls and all of a sudden you have two hometown Brazilians getting second and third.”

Woodall enjoyed his time working in Rio, even though the pressure was high for such widely-viewed events.

“When producing a high profile event such as the Olympics, we make every effort to make sure we have told the story accurately with no production mistakes.”

This post was shared from the MSU Alumni Association blog

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Art students present work in library exhibit, “Understanding the Object: Research and Conserving Art and Artifacts”

UntitledAn exhibit reflecting the work of students in ART 386: Art of Africa and ART 488: Basic Conservation of Art and Artifacts will run Sept. 21 — Dec.16, 2016 at Duane G. Meyer Library, Room 306, Special Collections and Archives.

The room is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Exhibit features objects on loan from several collections

This educational exhibit is the culmination of the best student research from the 2015-2016 Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL) integrated courses ART 488: Basic Conservation of Art and Artifacts of Fall 2015 and ART 386: Art of Africa of Spring 2016.

Under Dr. Billie Follensbee, students researched the objects as part of their course projects. Objects studied are on loan from the Ralph Foster Museum, Drury University, Christian County Historical Society, the Mace collection, and other private collections. Access was also provided to the Union Campground Cemetery in Springfield so students could work at the site.

Come to our reception

Join us in Special Collections for a reception 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, as the ART 386 and ART 488 students and project supporters come together to view the exhibit. This event is free and open to the public.

Contact Special Collections for more information

Meyer Library’s Special Collections and Archives is pleased to support Dr. Follensbee and her students by providing study space and conservation facilities, as well as developing the current exhibit showcasing the students’ work. Special Collections can be reached at (417) 836-5428 or by email at Archives@missouristate.edu

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Ozarks Lecture Series explores facets of Ozarks history, from hillbillies to African-American roots

After you’ve enjoyed the entertainment, artisanship and delicious eats at this weekend’s Ozarks Celebration Festival, make sure to come back for captivating stories and discussions about life in the Ozarks.

The Ozarks Lecture Series will take place on the Missouri State campus Sept. 12-14.

Hipbillies: Back to the Landers in the Arkansas Ozarks

JaredPhillips-on-StrikinglyMonday, Sept. 12
7 p.m.
Plaster Student Union, Room 313

Ozark native Jared M. Phillips will examine his life as a historian, aspiring draft-horse farmer and program manager for Feed Communities.


Rags and Meat and Hide and Hair: Violence in the Ozarks Master Narrative

stevewiegensteinTuesday, Sept. 13
7:30 p.m.
Meyer Library, Room 101

Author Steve Wiengenstein will explore his family roots grounded in the Ozarks area. Wiengenstein penned two historical fiction novels: Slant of Light and This Old World. He was raised in eastern Missouri and is now a Program Director for Humanities for the American Public University.

Let the Old Man Play: Springfield’s African-American Music Legends

ErnieBedellWednesday, Sept. 14
7 p.m.
Plaster Student Union, Room 313

Ernie Bedell developed his passion for guitar while growing up in Springfield, Missouri. He’ll discuss his past performances, recording contracts and all-around passion for music.

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