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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Student skills seen at SOTA Show Off


Tuesday, Nov. 7, the University of North Alabama’s School of the Arts (SOTA at UNA), hosted its student-led SOTA Show-Off at The Mane Room in downtown Florence. At the dazzling talent show’s conclusion, featured performers received “Golden Daves,” or little, trophy-esque versions of SOTA’s mascot, a small classroom skeleton with a taste for colorful accessories.

Student participants in the SOTA Show-Off included singer Anitra Burke, stand-up comedian K.P. Whisenant, animator Landon Lovette and dancers Elijah Winston and Malik Hampton. Two instructors gave performances, with Cinematic Arts and Theatre (CAT) Department Chair Michael C. Johnson and Assistant Technical Director at Norton Auditorium Ethan Franks both singing songs.

UNA’s SOTA offers courses in Cinematic Arts, Culinary Arts Management, Entertainment Industry, Fashion Merchandising and Design, Hospitality and Events Management, Interior Architecture and Design, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts.

SOTA is located at UNA’s central campus in Florence, one of the three cities that make up North Alabama’s Shoals area. To a point fueled by the Shoals’s rich musical history and well-documented love of the arts, SOTA has the means necessary to produce a variety of events in the community. Arguably its best-known venues, Norton Auditorium (500 N Pine St.) and The Mane Room (310 N Pine St.), continue to have a busy autumn season.

Norton Auditorium is just across the street from the bulk of UNA’s student housing. With over 1,600 seats, it regularly sees performances from SOTA students and South-based entertainers.

While not as close to student dorms as Norton Auditorium, The Mane Room is still within walking distance for those on campus. Managed by Ben Flippo, The Mane Room is a stage on which SOTA Department of Entertainment Students can showcase their skills. Through it, UNA also holds dinners and shows films, as it can seat up to 400 guests.

The SOTA Show-Off was perfectly suited for The Mane Room — it brought UNA students, faculty and staff together in support of one another.

In recent years, SOTA students in Florence have generated heavy buzz regarding their program. The SOTA POP podcast, for example, is managed by students; the series hosts interview fellow creators, involving everyone from classmates and instructors to local musicians and entrepreneurs. “SOTA POP” can be found on iTunes, Spotify and Podbean.

UNA sophomore Kiya Williams is highly involved with not only the SOTA POP podcast, but the university’s SOTA as a whole. As president of the SOTA Student Leaders, she helped carry out production of the SOTA Show-Off.

Describing SOTA as “STEM, but make it artsy,” Williams has devoted her time at UNA thus far to the arts. She enjoys the wide variety of programs encompassed by SOTA. “With SOTA, you major in culinary arts, visual arts, music or CAT. It does not matter what your artistic discipline is – SOTA will support you.”

Asked about what students and community members can do to support SOTA back, Williams says, “The best way to support our department is to follow us on all of our affiliated Instagram accounts. Also, you can always come out and support us in person! We have had a good bit of success this semester with events. Karaoke comes to mind, so does our recent Kindness Social [. . .] The Kindness Social was really an amazing way to bond with each other as friends. We had snacks, played board games, talked.”

Williams serves as an ambassador for SOTA at UNA, leading with a unique and admirable blend of drive and positive energy.

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About the Contributor
Mary-Stella Mangina
Mary-Stella Mangina, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mary-Stella is a junior majoring in both Professional Management and French for Commerce.

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