Department of Dance News
KSU Dance invited to perform at the KENNEDY CENTER
KSU Dance Company invited to perform at the KENNEDY CENTER
By Kathie Beckett
The Department of Dance at KSU has been selected among dance programs across the Southeast to perform at the National American College Dance Festival held biennially at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. This regional selection, marks the 5th time in a short 12-year history that the KSU Department of Dance has received this distinction, making it one of the most highly acclaimed dance programs in the Southeast U.S.
Prof. Lisa K.Lock’s choreographic work “Suspended Vision” was one of two works selected from among 44 works presented for adjudication at the Southeast regional conference held March 2-5, 2018 at Coker College. Both works will be performed at the national festival June 6-9, 2018 at the Kennedy Center, alongside a celebrated group of choreographic works selected from across the country. National adjudicators praised Lock’s work as having a “refined sense of non-linear drama, daring theatrical design, striking costuming and seamless excellence...” With lighting and scenic design by David Tatu, and costume design by Jill Peterson, “Suspended Vision” uses a cast of eight dancers to present technically virtuosic movement that is thrilling to watch and exhilarating to perform.
Lock joined the faculty at KSU in 2014 as a part-time professor, and was hired as an Assistant Professor of Dance in 2016. She holds M.F.A. and B.F.A. degrees in dance from the California Institute of the Arts and is originally native to Switzerland. Lock has a celebrated professional performance career with companies such as La Danserie (LA), the Cleveland Opera, and Ohio Dance Theater. Her recent dance film “My Other Self” was presented at the Summe in Switzerland.
The American College Dance Association is the most prestigious venue for collegiate dance in the country, with a mission to “honor multiple approaches to scholarly and creative research activity” and “promote excellence in choreography and/or performance…” Regional conferences are held annually across the U.S., and every two years, works are selected from regional conferences to be presented at the national festival held at the Kennedy Center. KSU founding director, Dr. Ivan Pulinkala holds the national record of being the only choreographer in the over 40-year history of the American College Dance Festival to have choreographic work invited to the Kennedy Center in three successive national years (2008, 2010, 2012.)
This national recognition comes at a fortuitous time for the Department of Dance as it prepares to host the Southeast Regional American College Dance Conference in 2019 at Kennesaw State University. For more information about the Department of Dance at KSU, visit ksudance.com
Prof. Lisa K.Lock's choreographic work "Suspended Vision" Photo Gallery
Dance 1107 Class Explores Dance Around the World
Dance photoClass 1107: Explores Dance Around the World
By Kathie Beckett
If you are lucky enough to nab a spot in Natalie Berry’s Dance 1107 class, you may not have any idea that you will be taking a tour of dance around the world and making international connections at the same time.
The 1107 dance class at Kennesaw State examines the role of arts in society, and provides an in-depth study of selected dance events, resulting in heightened perceptual abilities through class experiences and field visits.
Berry explains, “In the first half of the course, we study cultures: we look at dance, examine what dance is, and then we look at different countries and their take on dance. For example, we look at Japan, Brazil, and America. We look at the African aesthetic, which is very large so we have to pare it down; we study an author who uses seven African aesthetics.”
After the world tour of dance, the students study concert dance in the second half of the course. “We compare those cultural dances that we have studied and how they have influenced concert dance and how concert dance has been changed by world events. So, for example, we are talking about romantic ballet which was the first half of the 1800’s. We look at things like the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. We look at how those global ideas really affected the development, both theatrically and technically, of the art form. I feel like it is a great way to learn about history without learning about history,” Berry explains.
Berry’s students agree. A sophomore in engineering, student Thaide Huichapa says, “It is actually kind of interesting how different parts of the world have the same ideas, even across Africa, Brazil, and Japan. Japan was enclosed in their own country but they had the same ideas as other countries, without any contact. That was really cool.”
Lauren Jones, a freshman in exercise science with a minor in dance, says, “I’ve been able to look at dance in a different light, knowing the history behind certain movements, and the purpose behind the movements, from multiple parts of the world. Seeing that all come together into one is really cool; it becomes one art form, and that’s amazing.”
International student Mbali Mamba, a nursing major from South Africa, will never forget the Dance 1107 class. She said, “It’s like a big explosion of cultural knowledge. I have a completely different perspective of the world and society and how we connect. For me, personally, I didn’t realize that dance was so deep. It’s fascinating because we, as humans, are so connected, and we don’t even realize it. For example, some dance styles here in America are very similar to dances in South Africa. People who have never seen each other anywhere in the world are doing the exact same thing.”
Berry adds, “The class as a whole brought out this idea that cultures the world over are full of similarities. I thought that was a really great message. We don’t always have to be exactly the same. We don’t always have to agree, but we can find those connections. It makes you so much more willing to accept people.”
Class 1107 Photo Gallery
KSU Department of Dance Hosts Lecture Demonstration of Dance Lighting
David J Tatu, Resident Lighting Designer for the Department of Dance, held a dance lighting lecture on December 6 for past and future choreographers and company directors attending the KSU Dance Festival. Tatu showed multiple options of lighting both the stage and the dancers using the KSU dance repertory plot. Topics in the free workshop included angles, color, and the creation of looks and cues. Tatu previously ran a similar workshop at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.
Prior to joining KSU Department of Dance, he was the Director of Production and Lighting Director for Atlanta Ballet for over 15 years. A few of his original lighting design credits include: Alice in Wonderland, Carmina Burana, Divertimento #15, Il Distratto, Intermezzo, Pastoral Dances, Rite of Spring, Troy Game, Coppelia, Prisma, La Bayadere Act II, Cinderella, Con Amore, Allegro Brilliante, Madame Butterfly, Nutcracker and he created the lighting for John McFall’s final work with Atlanta Ballet: Sleeping Beauty. He has also designed for Ohio Ballet, Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, Nevada Opera, Gwinnett Ballet and Robert LaFosse’s Dancers from New York and he is the past Resident Lighting Designer for Dance Canvas.
As the Production Stage Manager and assistant lighting designer with Ohio Ballet, he worked closely with Tony Award-winning lighting designer Thomas R. Skelton. During that time, he recreated Skelton’s work for two seasons at the Joyce and designed the lighting for Ohio Ballet’s In Full Swing, A Person and The Exiles.
At KSU, David has created the lighting for a score of works. Some of his favorites: Rebuild, Alice, Winergy, Touchdown, Con Moto-Mosso, Derivative, Hyperkinetic and Table Manners 10.5. He has lit the Company at various festivals such as American Collage Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center and has managed production of various Department of Dance events around Atlanta. He was an integral part of the team working on the renovations to the KSU Marietta Dance Theater.
Dance Lighting Lecture Photo Gallery
KSU Launches Theater With Kibbutz Dancers
The company will usher in a new era of dance for metro Atlanta.
By Marcia Caller Jaffe | September 26, 2017
The dance department at Kennesaw State University will present Israel’s world-renowned Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company for one show at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Dance Theater on KSU’s Marietta Campus (the former Southern Polytechnic).
Choreographed by Kibbutz Contemporary Dance’s artistic director, Rami Be’er, “Horses in the Sky” premiered in 2016 at the Sydney Opera House. The work uses powerful physical vocabulary to juxtapose a surrealist sense of dreams and an impending apocalypse.
Ivan Pulinkala, the founding director of Kennesaw State’s department of dance, who this time last year was working with the Israeli Consulate General and several arts organizations on the Exposed dance festival, saw “Horses in the Sky” in December in Israel and knew it would be the ideal work to launch a professional presenting season at the university’s new, state-of-the-art Dance Theater.
The first professional dance company to grace the Dance Theater stage, Kibbutz will usher in a new era of dance for metro Atlanta as Kennesaw State introduces a professional series of internationally renowned dance companies.
“Horses in the Sky” will be the debut show for the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in the Atlanta area.
The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company was founded in 1973 by Yehudit Arnon, who survived Auschwitz, then moved to Israel to establish Kibbutz Ga’aton in the Western Galilee.
Today, Kibbutz Ga’aton is home to the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, known for its compelling movements, technically virtuosic performers and inventive artistic voice.
Be’er, the company’s artist director, was born in 1957 to a family of Holocaust survivors. After his mandatory army service but while he continued to serve in the army reserve, he joined the Kibbutz Contemporary company as a dancer.
He has continued the founding vision of the late Arnon and established the company’s International Dance Village as a magnet for dancers and creative artists from all over the world.
“Horses in the Sky” will mark the first time the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company is seen in Atlanta.
The past five years, Pulinkala has established a strong presence for the Kennesaw State dance program in Israel, including an annual dance study-abroad session in Tel Aviv and a host of visiting Israeli artists, who have given Kennesaw dance students the experience of cutting-edge contemporary dance from one of its world centers.
The Kennesaw State dance program received a Schusterman Visiting Artist Grant in 2016 to bring an Israeli artist to campus for four months.
Photo by Eyal Hirsch
Interview on NPR with professor Todd Wedge, choreographer Rifka Mayani and KSU vocal student Deondria WestListen to the NPR City Lights with Lois Reitzes interview Kennesaw professor Todd Wedge, choreographer Rifka Mayani and KSU vocal student Deondria West speak about their production of rarely-performed one-act opera by Gustav Holst called “Savitri.”
KSU Dance Company achieves success at Regional American College Dance Festival
The KSU Dance Company was extremely successful at the Regional American College Dance Festival held in Alabama, March 10-13, 2017, with both adjudicated works selected for the Gala Concert.
Israeli Artist-in-Residence Ella Ben Aharon choreographed “Hyperselves” and dance major Will VanMeter choreographed “Double Helix,” two works presented by KSU Dance this year. “Hyperselves” was the only work out of 46 performed at the festival that received a standing ovation. This work also received the honor of closing the Gala Concert.
This gala selection is extremely important to KSU’s historic record of success at ACDA, once again placing KSU Dance as a leading collegiate dance program not just in Georgia, but in the Southeast.
A special thanks to the Schusterman Visiting Artist Program at the Israeli Institute and the Consulate of Israel in Atlanta for funding Ella Ben-Aharon’s residency at KSU Dance last year.
KSU Dance is scheduled to host the Southeast Regional American College Dance Association in 2019.
Dance Theater to Open on KSU’s Marietta Campus
The region’s first theater designed specifically for dance will open March 24-25, 2017 on Kennesaw State University’s Marietta campus. Housed in the Joe Mack Wilson Student Center, the theater on KSU’s Marietta campus is being transformed into an ideal venue for dance.
With a seating capacity of 450, the Dance Theater is equipped with a permanently installed sprung Marley dance floor and state-of-the-art theatrical lighting and sound. Inspired by the Joyce Theater in New York City, it will be the performance home for the KSU Dance Company and will also host student organizations and university functions. Further, it will serve as a rental performance venue for dance in the region.
“Our new Dance Theater will help fill a void for choreographers and local dance companies by providing an affordable performance venue fully equipped for the presentation of concert dance,” said Dr. Patty Poulter, Dean of the College of the Arts.
The venue will open to the public with the premiere of Metamorphosis, an original work choreographed by Ivan Pulinkala, founding director of the Department of Dance at KSU. Metamorphosis evokes both the metaphorical transformation of people through the power of knowledge and education, as well as the physical transformation of the venue into a dance theater.
The 45-minute work will feature 19 dancers from the KSU Dance Company. Set to an original instrumental score by KSU music major Eric Ramos, and an original choral score by Michael Engelhardt, Metamorphosis includes 60 singers from the KSU Chorus, conducted by Dr. Leslie Blackwell. Lighting design is by David Tatu, scenic design is by Ming Chen and visual design is by Rebecca Makus. To read more about the new Dance Theater and Metamorphosis, please click here.
The Marietta Dance Theater Board has many ways for patrons to help support the new Dance Theater, including naming opportunities, sponsorships, and seat donations. Learn more at KSUDance.com.
Images courtesy of architectural firm J.W. Robinson & Associates, Inc.
“City Lights” features Dr. Ivan Pulinkala and guest artist Ella Ben-Aharon
Dr. Ivan Pulinkala and Department of Dance artist-in-residence Ella Ben-Aharon were featured on Lois Reitzes’ “City Lights” on WABE 90.1 FM on August 23, 2016. Listen to the interview here.
A choreographer, Ben-Aharon has a particular interest in multidisciplinary collaboration with such fields as architecture and video. Her work has been presented in Israel, Europe, Brazil and the United States (Joyce SoHo; Danspace Project, New York; REDCAT, Los Angeles, et al). Ben-Aharon is on the faculty of the Jerusalem Academy of Dance and Music and has been a guest teacher at American universities as well. She will be at Kennesaw State University as a Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist, through the Israeli Institute, until December 10, 2016.
Dance Production at Kennesaw State
Kennesaw State University’s Department of Dance is celebrating ten years of excellence, and part of that excellence lies within its dance production or stagecraft classes. Over the last three years, production manager and resident lighting designer, David Tatu, has taught dance students the sophisticated art of producing a dance show.
“Even if a student is only interested in performing, the student learns firsthand what it takes to put on a show. They learn how lighting works, and how to position themselves to be in the light. And when someone says, ‘Heads up, line coming in,’ they know they better move,” said Tatu.
Tatu’s role is to explain what happens in the production of a show and why it’s necessary. Student Mallory Brown has taken the class twice so far. “I think it is important for anyone who performs on stage to get an inside look at what happens behind the scenes. Both times that I took the course, I focused on lighting. This has changed the way I view dance performances; I now have a keener eye. Lighting is an art form within itself that goes hand-in-hand with dance,” said Brown.
Tatu has 30 years of experience in dance production, beginning in high school and continuing through college. He got his first taste of teaching while working as the director of production and resident lighting designer for Atlanta Ballet.
“I don’t know if it has to do with the discipline learned in their dance classes, but our students are very quick learners. I guess when you spend all those years in dance classes, you are trained to carefully listen and observe, and then you have to put what you’ve learned into practice.”
“I can run shows almost as fast with our dance students as I can with a professional crew. When the dance production classes first started, I wasn’t sure how we would get everything done. Now, it’s no problem.”
Ivan Pulinkala, chair of the Department of Dance, sees great curricular value in the development of the dance production area.
“The experience students have in dance production at KSU distinguishes our program regionally, and ensures that KSU dance majors are equipped with skills that make them well-rounded practitioners and performers.”
Today, KSU dance majors may be seen working across Atlanta in a variety of dance production roles. Internships and community partnerships ensure that dance majors have opportunities to practice their stagecraft at professional venues well before they graduate. These experiences distinguish KSU Dance as a leader in dance education in the region.
To learn more, please visit arts.kennesaw.edu/dance.
Study Abroad in IsraelThirteen KSU dance majors traveled to Israel this summer for seven days, studying Batsheva repertory, taking gaga technique classes, and visiting some of the most historic sites in the world. Ivan Pulinkala, chair of the Department of Dance, developed the two-week Maymester course with the goal of helping dance students understand how the political and religious history of Israel has shaped the development of some of the most influential contemporary dance in the world.
According to KSU’s Vice-Provost and Chief International Officer, Lance Askildson, “This inaugural program in dance will serve as a catalyst for the development of other education abroad programs for KSU in Israel.” Though smaller than the size of New Jersey, Israel, known as the start-up nation, is home to the highest number of academics per capita in the world.
Ambassador Judith Varnai -Shorer, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast said,
“This study abroad in dance is an organic development of the growing relationship we have with Ivan Pulinkala and the Department of Dance at KSU, and one that we hope will result in the growth of other study abroad programs for Kennesaw State University in Israel.”
Dance majors described the experience to be transformational. Working with some of the most celebrated dancers in the world and studying Batsheva repertory was inspirational beyond measure. The students were fortunate to be able to attend the world premiere of a new work by the Vertigo Dance Company. The students described the performance as sophisticated and unique, and many noted that it was a highlight of the trip. Learn more about study abroad programs at dga.kennesaw.edu.