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Taking steps to increase social issue awareness

Unity Ball features original dance production ‘Humanity’

​Katie Hunter knows all about the raw emotions that flow through the dances in the original theatrical dance production "Humanity."

The Central Michigan University senior from St. Johns serves as the assistant director and choreographer of "Humanity" that 2015 alumna Tyler Lenn Bradley, from Lansing, wrote, directed and choreographed her senior year.

The rawness quickly got more real for Hunter when she stepped in as a lead dancer in the scene dealing with suicide ­— one of the many stories she knows people need to understand.

"There are a lot of things in this world that go untouched," she said. "I can't believe how often people sit back and don't offer a hand or even just verbal support. I want to be that person that's able to step up and change something, even if it's not everything."

"Humanity" unapologetically addresses social issues such as suicide, sexism, racism, domestic violence and addiction. It's intended to spark conversations, to create a comfortable environment to talk about uncomfortable things.

Generating such conversations is why it will be performed at the Unity Ball, scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, in the Bovee University Center Rotunda at the conclusion of CMU's Martin Luther King Jr. Week celebration.

"I saw the performance when it was first produced, and I thought it would be a perfect fit for the Unity Ball," said D'Wayne Jenkins, assistant director of Multicultural Academic Student Services.

The production was introduced in February 2015 to a room full of Bradley's classmates, and shows grew from an invitation-only performance in the Townsend Kiva to the UC Rotunda for the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center's Issue Day.

Bradley didn't develop "Humanity" for course credit. She saw it as an opportunity to share her perspectives and gain experience as a theater director and dancer.

"It's so personal. It all comes from a true and honest place," said Bradley, who now is pushing to engage nationwide audiences with her show. "Every dance is based on the experiences of someone I know."

"Humanity" stars several 2015 alumni and nearly 20 CMU students, who dance poignant storylines to popular songs.

Gio Anderson, a freshman theater major from Saginaw, is one of those students. He said getting involved with the production has become one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

"It's important to me as an active member of the civil rights community because I believe everyone has an equal say in what's going on. No one should be judged," Anderson said. "I hope people come to see the show and look at the world differently."

Tickets for the Unity Ball and "Humanity" are $7 for students and $10 for the general public. They're available at the door, or in the Multicultural Academic Student Services office in Bovee University Center 108, or by calling 989-774-3945.

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