Local Business Owners Establish Aerial Arts Program at Southeast’s River Campus

Area entrepreneurs Lauren Jones and Jeffrey Maurer understand the importance of finding a competitive edge.  Maurer is president of Mayson Capital Partners, and Jones is the owner of The Edge, a fitness and wellness studio in Cape Girardeau.  The couple recently made a generous donation to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation to establish an aerial arts program within The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University. “Aerial dance incorporates a variety of technical dance elements with silks or other apparatus such as trapeze and lyra. This form of training has become widely popular in recent years with many dance and entertainment companies specifically looking for graduates with aerial training and knowledge,' said Hilary Peterson, assistant professor and coordinator of the Conservatory's dance program. The Conservatory’s goal is to provide students with training, experiences, knowledge and a professional network to launch a rewarding career in the performing arts. Southeast is a proud member of the esteemed National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST). The Conservatory is also pursuing accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). 'The addition of aerial arts sets our program apart, giving our students an advantage over most other programs in the Midwest,' Peterson said. The Southeast dance program accreditation focuses on multi-disciplinary opportunities for students. The addition of aerial dance into the program and curriculum enables students to infuse their dance training with another physical form that borrows from and expands upon traditional dance. Jones is herself an aerial performer and teaches classes in aerial arts at her studio. “Lauren gave an excellent aerial performance at last year's River Campus Summer Arts Festival, and recognizes how important aerial training is to our program,” Peterson said. According to Peterson, donations like these through the University Foundation are crucial to expanding the training opportunities for students at Southeast. “We are very appreciative that Lauren and Jeff have provided this gift to establish the aerial arts program for our next phase of growth and excellence at the River Campus,” Peterson said.