Department of Dance News

  • 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

  • Listen 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 Regional America nCollege 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 KSU Marietta

    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

    Images courtesy of architectural firm J.W. Robinson & Associates, Inc.

  • City Lights features Dr. Ivan Pulinkala

    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 KSU

    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

  • Thirteen 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