Faculty

  • Dr. Ivan Pulinkala

    Chair & Professor

    Ed.D. Higher Education Administration, Univ. of Alabama
    M.F.A. Dance, Mills College
    B.Com (H), Delhi University
    Areas of Emphasis: Choreography, Contemporary Technique, History, Critical Theory, Kinesiology
    E-mail: ipulinka@kennesaw.edu
    www.ivanpulinkala.com
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    Ivan Pulinkala received his Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama, his M.F.A in Dance from Mills College, Oakland, Calif., and his Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) from Hindu College, Delhi University. Originally from New Delhi, Pulinkala has worked professionally in the field of dance and musical theatre both in India and the U.S. His choreographic work has been commissioned for concert dance, musical theatre, as well as corporate and commercial film. While in India, Pulinkala served as the artistic director of his own company, performing and choreographing across the country. He served as the choreographer-in-residence for Delhi Music Theatre, and was named among the 25 Indian artists of the Millennium by the India Today Magazine in their December 1999 issue.

    Pulinkala serves as the chair of the Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University, and teaches classes in modern technique, choreography, dance history, kinesiology and performance. He also serves as the artistic director for the Kennesaw State University Dance Company. Pulinkala was awarded the KSU Foundation Award in 2011, the Clendenin Graduate Fellowship at KSU in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the NEA American Masterpiece Grant for the Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University in 2010, the Cobb Symphony Orchestra Award for Artistic Excellence in 2010 and the Board of Regents award for Teaching Excellence from Murray State University in 2005. He was also commissioned by the Tony award winning Alliance Theatre to choreograph their 2008 production of “Eurydice.” Pulinkala has received arts grants both in India and the U.S. for his work, and has served as a guest artist for a number of professional companies and university programs. In 2012, Pulinkala was selected by the Consulate of Israel to represent the U.S. as a cultural ambassador at the International Dance Exposure held in Tel Aviv. Recent choreographic commissions include work for Atlanta Ballet (Atlanta, GA), Fresco (Tel Aviv, Israel), Brigham Young University (Provo, UT), Israel Ballet (Tel Aviv, Israel) and recent publications Research in Dance Education Journal.

    The KSU Department of Dance has received regional and national attention for Pulinkala's choreographic work at the American College Dance Festival (ACDF.) He is the only choreographer in the history of ACDF to have work selected for 3 successive national festivals. In 2008, "INCUBUS" choreographed by Pulinkala, was performed at the National Festival held at the Miller Theatre in New York City. In 2010, Pulinkala's work "CHAKRA" was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. In 2012, Pulinkala and the KSU Dance Company returned to the Kennedy Center with "Rhizome." Pulinkala's work has also been selected for the ACDF Regional Gala Concerts in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

    Guest Artist Residencies

    Pulinkala has choreographed and taught for a number of professional companies, colleges and arts organizations:

    Israel Ballet (2014)
    Atlanta Ballet - Wabi Sabi (2014)
    FRESCO Dance Company, Israel (2013)
    Rialto Center for the Arts (2010, 2011, 2013)
    Washington University in St. Louis (2009, 2012)
    Brigham Young University (2011, 2013)
    Georgia Shakespeare (2011)
    gloATL (2010)
    Shanghai Normal University (2010)
    Atlanta Ballet (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010)
    University of South Carolina (2008)
    Nirvana Films (2007)
    Governor's School for the Arts, Tennessee (2006, 2008)
    The Dancer's Studio (2007)
    Middle Tennessee State University (2005-2007)
    Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus (2007, 2008)
    Spelman College (2006)
    Modern Atlanta Dance Festival (2006, 2007)
    Decatur Arts Festival (2006)
    Shanghai International Theatre Festival (2005)
    Shelter Repertory Dance Company (2005)
    Full Radius Dance Company (2005)
    Murray State University (2001-2005)
    Western Kentucky University (2004)
    Danceworx (2004, 2009)
    Vanderbilt University (2003, 2004)
    U.C. Berkley (2004)
    Mills College (2004)
    Contemporary Dance Exchange of Nashville (2003-2005)
    University of Tennessee at Martin (2003)
    American College Dance Festival (2004-2012)
    City Lights Youth Theatre (2001)
    Delhi Music Theatre (1994-2002)
    American Embassy School (1997-2002)
    St. George's College (1994, 1995)

    Grants/Awards

    Clendenin Graduate Fellowship 2010, 2011, 2012
    KSU Foundation Award 2011
    KSU College of the Arts Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award 2011
    Cobb Symphone Orchestra Award for Artistic Excellence 2010
    NEA American Masterpiece Grant 2010-11
    Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award 2005 (Murray State University)
    KSU Faculty Incentive Grant 2006-07
    Faculty Teaching Development Grant
    Faculty Professional Development Grant
    Committee on Institutional Studies and Research Grant
    Individual Artist Fellowship Program Grant at the Kentucky Arts Council
    Middle Tennessee State University International Guest Artist Grant

    Choreography

    Original Modern works include: Rinpoche (2014, PYROMANIA (2014), TOUCHDOWN (2013), Road Kill (2012), Rhizome (2011), Cocoon (2010), Lost (2010), Chakra (2009), Succubus (2009), Magnetic Fields (2009), Metastasis (2009), Incubus (2008), Hyperspace (2007), A Dream Discarded (2007), Cloud Burst (2006), Firestorm (2005), Migration (2004), No Way Out (2003), Inside My Twisted Mind (2004), Mock Abduction (2002), Touch Down (2004), Secret Garden (2003), To Be Baptized (2003), Passages (2003), Coffee Break (2003), As Time Moves On (2003), Popcorn Suite (2002), Dirty Business (2002), Offerings (2003), A New World (2002), Cycle (2002), Geometric Relationships (2001), Second Construction (2001), Slow (2000) among others.

    Professional musical theatre choreography/ performance credits include: Tommy, The Music Man, West Side Story, Grease, Best Friends, Evita, Fame- the musical, Me and My Girl, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat among others.

    Publications   

    Partnering for Change in Dance Higher Education (2013)

    (Research in Dance Education)
    Integration of a Professional Dance into College (2011)
    (Research in Dance Education)
    Piper of the Soul (2010)
    (Lambert Academic Publications)
    ISBN# 978-3-8383-1149-4
    The Sensuality of Indian Movement (2009)
    (www.artconcerns.com)
    Print 2010/ Online 2009
    Polyphonic Dynamics as Educational Practice
    (Co-authored with Karen Robinson and Ming Chen)
    Theatre Topics (September 2010)

    Professional Affiliations
    Metropolitant Atlanta Arts Fund Board
    Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center Educational Board
    gloATL Advisory Council

    Read more about Ivan Pulinkala by visiting www.ivanpulinkala.com

  • Prof. Daniel Gwirtzman

    Assistant Professor of Dance

    M.F.A. Dance, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
    B.F.A. Dance, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Areas of Emphasis: Modern, Contemporary and Musical Theater Technique, Choreography, Dance and Film, Community Programming, K-12 Arts Education
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    Daniel Gwirtzman—producer, director, educator, filmmaker and performer—celebrates twenty years as a professional choreographer in 2015. He has earned praise for the creation of a diverse repertory known for its humor, stylistic versatility, and musicality. “A flair for the entertaining,” says critic Elizabeth Zimmer. “Mr. Gwirtzman does know that in dance less can be more. And that’s a good thing for any choreographer to know” says The New York Times The New Yorker describes him as a choreographer of “high spirits and skill” (May 2014).

    Daniel has created more than one hundred repertory works and is sought after nationally and internationally as a teacher and choreographer. The critically acclaimed New York-based Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company is known for its infectiously charismatic and playfully virtuosic work, blending robust physicality with universally relatable themes.

    His choreography has been performed at venues throughout the country and abroad and he has been awarded commissions, residencies and fellowships throughout the world, including those by the Joyce Theater Foundation (NY), The Yard (MA), Djerassi Resident Artists Program (CA), Raumars (Finland) and the Sacatar Foundation (Brazil).

    As a dancer he has been described as a willowy John Travolta, sensual, playful, a rag doll, unusually supple, and one who moves like the wind.  Daniel attended The University of Michigan, graduating with a BFA in Dance, and holds a Masters in Fine Arts from The University of Wisconsin. He danced in the companies of Garth Fagan Dance and the Mark Morris Dance Group among others.  He co-founded Artichoke Dance Company in 1995, which The New York Times called “a welcome addition to the New York dance scene.” 

    His hit show Encore premiered in 2007 in New York at Joyce SoHo, was an official selection of the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2009, has been licensed on other professional companies and continues to tour.  In 2010 he was selected by the DanceBreak Foundation, supporting the “next generation of great Broadway choreographers.”

    Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, a nonprofit organization, celebrates its fifteenth anniversary in 2014 and has demonstrated a commitment to education since its inception. Operating with the belief that everyone can join the dance, the programming, known for its energy, innovation and accessibility, seeks to captivate the greatest common denominator among a diverse population.

    “Founded upon a philosophy that dance should celebrate human achievement through a combination of discipline and unbound optimism” (The New York Sun), the Company cultivates the creation of innovative art and presents this to the public through multigenerational interactive programming.  DGDC thrives on collaborations with community-based organizations throughout and outside of NYC.  Contracted with the NYC Department of Education since 1999, the Company has taught dance to over 15,000 students, parents, teachers, and administrators.  Recent foundation support includes a multi-year grant from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, from Tony Bennett’s Exploring the Arts Foundation, and from the National Endowment for the Art.  2012 engagement highlights included debut performances at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in Scotland. 

    A master teacher, Gwirtzman has been on faculty at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a visiting professor at The University of the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Michigan.  Daniel has been a guest at various institutions, including the Rochester City Ballet, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, North Carolina Dance Theater, The Joffrey Ballet School, Princeton University, New York University, Fordham University/The Ailey School, Barnard College, Kenyon College, Abrons Arts Center, American Dance Festival Studios, Virginia Commonwealth University, Duke University, Broadway Dance Center, Rutgers University, Richmond Ballet, The Interlochen Center for the Arts, and the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts among other college and arts high school dance departments.

    His clear, commanding and humorous delivery has earned him regard in academia, as has his published essays, criticisms and dance for camera films, which were selected into three film festivals in 2012, including one in Rio de Janeiro, and the American Dance Festival International Screendance Festival in 2013.

    In 2013, Daniel received fellowships from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, in northern California, and from the Sacatar Foundation, where he was in residence in Bahia, Brazil for two months producing dance films.

    In 2014, he celebrated his fifteenth anniversary as the director of Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company with his world premiere, The Oracle, at the prestigious BAM Fisher, May 30-June 1.

    He is most excited to join the full-time faculty at KSU Dance!

    For more information, please visit www.gwirtzmandance.org

    Contact Daniel Gwirtzman: dgwirtzm@kennesaw.edu

  • Prof. Mara Mandradjieff

    Interim Assistant Professor of Dance

    Doctoral Student of Dance, Texas Woman's University
    M.Ed., University of Pittsburgh
    Areas of Emphasis: Ballet Technique, Dance Pedagogy, Critical Theory
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    Mara Mandradjieff began her ballet training with Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, where she performed principal roles in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Serenade, Valse Fantasie, and Garland Waltz. Her summers were spent training at various programs such as the Chautauqua Institute, Miami City Ballet, and four summers at The School of American Ballet. Mara went on to dance professionally with Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, Columbus Dance Theatre, Texture Contemporary Ballet, The Georgia Ballet, where she performed principal roles in The Nutcracker and George Balanchine's Who Cares, Dance Canvas, and City Gate Dance Theater Company.

    Wanting to use her dance experience in alternative ways, Mara founded the Lume Foundation and currently holds the Executive Director position. Lume Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that uses dance to engage and inspire patients and individuals at healthcare facilities such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, geriatric care centers, and different types of counseling centers. Lume has been working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and continues to foster new relationships in the community.

    Turning towards academics, Mara received her bachelors summa cum laude at the University of Pittsburgh in English Literature with a minor in Dance and a certificate in Gender Studies. Mara later finished her Masters in Education at the University of Pittsburgh with a certification to teach Secondary English Education. During this time, Mara presented research at the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Convention with her lecture, "Just Your Typical Starving Artist" and the following year won The Marlee and James Myers Award for her critical essay Queering Ballet.

    Once graduated, Ms. Mandradjieff remained at the University of Pittsburgh as a choreographer and part-time faculty member, in addition to her involvement with Point Park University. Here in Atlanta, Mara has taught as an adjunct professor for Emory University’s Dance Program and continues to enjoy her work at Kennesaw State University.

    Most recently, Ms. Mandradjieff has begun Texas Woman’s University’s Doctoral Program of Dance, where her research centers on gender studies and embodiment phenomena within the performing ballet body.

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  • Prof. Lauri Stallings

    Artist-in-Residence

    B.F.A. Dance, Point Park University
    Area of Emphasis: Contemporary Technique
    www.gloatl.org
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    Lauri Stallings is a contemporary choreographer and collaborator, and was born in Gainesville, Florida. She moved to Pittsburgh as a young artist, and took early admissions into Point Park University, followed immediately by the beginning of a performance career with Cleveland San Jose' Ballet and Ballet British Columbia, performing important historical works of Agnes de Mille, Jose' Limon, and influential creative processes with Canadian choreographers Serge Benethan, Jean Grande Maitre, and Mark Godden. From 2000-2005, Stallings performed with renowned Hubbard St. Dance Chicago, tourning nationally and internationally, and originating roles in the troupes intensely physical repertoire. In 2005, she won Chicago's Music and Dance Alliance Ruth Page Award and was named Chicagoan of the Year for her choreographic debut, Moody Hollow. In 2006, Lauri was introduced to Atlanta during a 3-year Choreographic Residency with Atlanta Ballet. The city's artists, musicians and writers helped open her ideas of what dance is, where it occurs, and the meaningfulness of collaboration. Having worked professionally for many years now, Stallings was inspired to feel and look at dance through other lens, and rally art teams together to offer other ways of experiencing life.

    Stallings has received commissions from the Woodruff Arts Center and Bailey Center for the Arts, and recently received a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation SEED grant for her work with glo, and new commissions from Acadania Center for the Arts. Stallings is a 2012 Rome Prize nominee from the American Academy of Arts, and a 201o Bogliasco Fellow (Italy). Her work has been exhibited at Georgia Museum of Art, Michael C. Carlos Museum, the High Musuem of Art, Quinlan Arts Center, and her physical Installation choir B will open the Zuckerman Museum of Art in 2014. Stallings was Artist-in-Residence of Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center in 2011, and received a Creative Residency at Atlanta Symphony Hall in 2011.

    Stallings has collaborated intensely with artists across disciplines, including conductor Robert Spano ( 2011, for Maa', Atlanta Symphony Hall), filmmakers Micah Stansell ( 2012, for search for the exceptional ) and Adam Larsen (2008 and 2011, for big and Maa'), Sonic Generator Music Ensemble (2013, for The Child Project), mural artists Living Walls ( 2013, for The Traveling Show public art tour), visual artist Gyun Hur ( 2013, for Hippodrome: a tryptich on urban stages), Atlanta Opera (2012, for Liquid Culture: a utopia station series), and rap star Big Boi of OUTkast, with whom Stallings garnered a 2008 Benois de la Danse (Moscow) nomination for big. In 2012, Stallings began a collaboration with Real Estate developer Hallister Foster to launch Tanz Farm, a production structure for Atlanta and inter/National artists working with new ideas and forms in live art.

    Stallings has been commissioned for new work by American Ballet Theatre (NY), Laban Institute (UK), Ballet Augsburg (Germany), Ballet British Columbia (Canada), Hubbard St. Dance Chicago, DanceLINES Royal Ballet (UK), River North Dance Chicago and Jacob's Pillow (MA). Stallings is Resident Artist of Kennesaw State University, Department of Dance, and is Visiting Lecturer in Georgia Tech's School of Architecture, and she has created new work for SUNY Purchase, Point Park University, Julliard, and Fordham/ Ailey II.

    Lauri creates her work in Goodson Yard, a 114-year old factory space at the Goat Farm Arts Center, in Atlanta.

    lauristallings.org
    gloATL.org

  • Prof. Natalie Smith Berry

    Part-Time Assistant Professor of Dance

    M.F.A. Ballet, University of Oklahoma
    Areas of Emphasis: Ballet, History, General Education
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    M.F.A., Ballet, University of Oklahoma
    A native of Arkansas, Natalie Berry received her Master of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Ballet from the University of Oklahoma in 2002. Upon graduation, Berry was honored with the OU School of Dance White Buffalo Mask Award. Since then she has worked for Winthrop University and Brenau University and has been a guest teacher at Coker College, Middle Tennessee State University, Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, N.C. and York County Ballet in Rock Hill, S.C. among others. Berry was invited by the Dekalb County School of the Arts to teach and stage original works and continues to have an ongoing relationship with the program. She has taught at various summer programs including the Summer Wind Youth Ballet, Kennesaw State Summer Dance Clinic, Sawnee Ballet and many more. She was the Ballet Mistress for Dancentre South in Woodstock, Ga. where she staged the annual production of The Nutcracker as well as choreographed original works that were performed throughout the southeast. Her choreography has been awarded honorable mention for two years at the Panoply Choreography Contest.

    Just recently, Berry choreographed a piece for the student company of Ballet Arkansas in Little Rock, AR. This work will be presented along with live accompaniment by the Arkansas Youth Symphony Orchestra on the professional company’s fall program.

    Berry has performed with Ballet Arkansas, Oklahoma Festival Ballet and the Alex Spitzer Dance Company. She has studied with such notable teachers such as Dennis Marshall, Dennis Poole, Robert Weiss, David Howard, Alonzo King, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, Bill Evans and Miguel Terekhov. She has danced in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Gaite Parisienne, Carmina Burina, The Sleeping Beauty, Postmark Graceland and Serenade among other original works.

  • Prof. Lisa Lock

  • Prof. Christen Weimer

    Part-Time Assistant Professor of Dance

    M.F.A. in Dance, New York University
    Areas of Emphasis: Modern Technique, Choreography, General Education
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    After an extensive background in rhythmic gymnastics, Christen S. Weimer began dancing at the age of sixteen. During high school, she received the majority of her training in the pre-professional division of Atlanta Ballet, while spending summers at dance intensives such as the Rock School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, the Juilliard School and in France at L'Ecole Superieur de danse de Rosella Hightower. A graduate of the Westminster Schools, Christen holds a BA in Psychology and a minor in Dance from Barnard College, Columbia University and an MFA in Dance Performance from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. At Barnard, Christen graduated magna cum laude and studied under Mary Cochran, Allegra Kent, Barbara Sandanato, Katie Glasner and Sabrina Pillars, and performed the works of George Balanchine and Paul Taylor. Upon graduating from Barnard, Christen furthered her training in Chicago at the Lou Conte School as well as at Rivernorth, before returning to Atlanta to train and teach at Atlanta Ballet.

    In 2009, Christen attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received her MFA in Dance Performance and studied under Cherylyn Lavagnino, Phyllis Lamhut, Kay Cummings, James Martin, Patricia Beaman, James Sutton, Lynn Martin, Joy Kellman, Pamela Pietro and Renee Redding-Jones. While at Tisch, Christen had the pleasure of performing the works of Deborah Jowitt, Gus Solomons Jr. and Lucinda Childs.


    In 2008, Christen performed with Brooks and Company Dance as a company member, was featured in Outkast's music video Trans DF Express in 2002 and assisted Dennis Rodman as a rhythmic gymnastics coach in 2005 in a Golden Palace Casino Commercial. She is also a certified yoga instructor through the Mind Body DancerTM Teacher Training directed by TaraMarie Perri. Christen’s passion for choreography has lead her to create works at Barnard College and Tisch School of the Arts, as well as for the dance departments at La Roche College and Kennesaw State University.


    Upon graduating from Tisch in 2011, Christen relocated to Pittsburgh to perform with Bodiography Contemporary Ballet and work as a Dance instructor and choreographer at Act One Theatre School. At Act One Theatre School, Christen created choreography for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    While in Pittsburgh, she also worked as an Adjunct professor of Dance at La Roche College and set a new work on the Dance majors for the 2012 La Roche College Spring Gala. In 2012, Christen was thrilled to return to Atlanta, and her roots, to accept a position as a faculty member in the Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University. Currently, in addition to teaching at KSU, Christen reviews contemporary dance in Atlanta for DIY Dancer, and since joining KSU’s faculty, Christen has created works on Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company, Dance Canvas and for Goleta Ballet Company.


    Christen would like to thank her mentors, family and friends for their continued support, as well as her students, who continually inspire her.

  • Prof. Dana Woodruff

    Part-Time Assistant Professor of Dance

    M.F.A. Dance, New York University
    Area of Emphasis: Ballet, Modern
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    Dana, originally from Norwich, VT , began her dance training with Joseph and Victoria DeChiazza, professors of Dance at Dartmouth College. After eleven years of studying Ballet (French Technique), Modern (Limon Based) and Jazz (Jack Cole Based), Dana went on to Adelphi University to receive her B.F. A. in Dance. She trained with Norman Walker, Carmen de Lavallade, Loren Hightower, Rochelle Zide-Booth and Regina Larkin. After graduation, she attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to earn an M.F.A. in Dance. She performed works by Gus Solomons Jr., Mark Morris, and Ann Carlson and trained with Jenny Way (Twyla Tharp), Gwen Welliver (Doug Varone), Jim Martin, Phyllis Lamhut (Nikolais), Mark Haim, Jackie Villamil, Deborah Jowitt and Kaye Cummings. During her second year at NYU, Dana joined the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, performing Trisler works in NYC and multiple venues in the Northeast. After graduating, she performed with Cherylyn Lavagnino, Imago Dance Theatre, and formed her own collaborative company called Ground Floor Dance.

    Since moving to Atlanta, Dana has taught Ballet and Modern technique to dancers of all ages. She has taught at the Georgia Academy of Dance, in the Public School system, at The Studio Atlanta Dance, and is currently an adjunct professor at Kennesaw State University. She continues to study dance at The Atlanta Ballet and enjoys contributing behind the scenes as well, serving as Production Coordinator for Dance Canvas’ performances at the 14th St. Playhouse, Atlantic Station and Fabrefaction Theatre.

  • Prof. Marcus R. Alford

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    B.A. University of Alabama
    Area of Emphasis: Jazz
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    Born in Tripoli, Libya, Marcus Alford found his way to several continents as an Air Force brat. He eventually landed at the University of Alabama where he earned a B.A. degree. Inspired by his dance teachers, he headed to Chicago where he choreographed, taught, danced and toured with the legendary Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago for a decade.

    Mr. Alford has been on the faculty of every major dance organization including D.M.A., D.E.A., Internationale Tanz Werkstatt, Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, Boston Dance Teachers Club, American Dance Awards, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and many others. Marcus’ high energy jazz classes have also inspired students at the Festival of the World in Hungary, The American College Dance Festival, The International Ballet Competition, Jackson, MS, Hubbard Street Dance Studio, Chicago and the North Carolina School of the Arts.

    In 1986, Marcus founded “JAZZ ON TAP” (the Metro Atlanta Jazz and Tap Dance Festival) which has grown to be one of the largest dance events of its kind in the U.S. featuring master classes and performances involving 2000 dancers annually. In 1991, he authored Jazz Danceology, now a standard in the libraries of jazz dancers, teachers and universities everywhere. Alford’s company, Jazz Dance Theatre South, founded in 1986, toured the U.S. and Europe for 15 years presenting the highest caliber of concert jazz and tap. Serving the Ballet community with its own festival, Mr. Alford founded “BalletFest Atlanta” in 2003.

    Marcus Alford has performed in and/or choreographed many award winning industrials and TV/video projects. His “Customer is King” (Media Mix, London/Atlanta) won a Telly Award for outstanding television and video production and “Alcatel is Here!” (Networld/Interop Communications Show) won the Best of Show award. With Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Marcus danced “The Rehearsal”, an Emmy Award winner. Mr. Alford’s industrial work includes clients such as Kohler Corporation, Sprint, I.B.M., Milliken Carpets and N.F.L. Commissioners. His concert choreography can be seen on companies throughout the dance world.

    Along with his wife, Annie Day, Mr. Alford serves as Owner/Artistic Director of Dancentre South, Inc. in metro Atlanta. They were the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. In 2007, Day and Alford assumed the management and direction of Joel Ruminer Dance Camps and premiered the first season of “Jazz On Tap On Tour”. The traveling dance camp provides teachers and students with a well-rounded dance experience combining challenging classes from top professionals in the dance world with an enjoyable summer camp atmosphere. Marcus loves to share the wonderful art and excitement of dance with all!

  • Prof. Theresa M. Howard

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    M.S. Dance Movement Therapy, Hunter College
    B.F.A. Dance Theater Education
    Area of Emphasis: African Dance
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    M.S., Dance Movement Therapy, Hunter College
    B.F.A., Dance Theater and Education Theresa M. Howard has worked in the human services field for 30 years and currently manages an Adult Day Program for frail senior citizens with special needs. Her professional journey includes coordinating day treatment programs for the mentally ill in New York and Atlanta, initiated and facilitated the first Day Treatment Program for senior citizens with mental illness in Fulton County, managed a Case management Program for the homeless mentally ill substance abusing population and coordinated a Substance Abuse Prevention Program in the city of Atlanta, Fulton County.Ms. Howard is a native of New York where she received her bachelor of fine arts degree in dance theatre and education. She holds a master of science degree from Hunter College in dance-movement therapy, and is pursuing a doctoral degree.

    Theresa M. Howard is an accomplished professional dancer, proficient in classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, African, Balinese, Tap and Belly Dancing Techniques, Tai Chi and Yoga. She has performed and been a guest performer with many prominent dance ensembles for over 30 years. These included: Chuck Davis African-American Dance Ensemble, Joan Miller and the Chamber Arts Players, Eleo Pomare, Rod Rogers Dance Company, Giwayen Mata, Barefoot Ballet, Manga African Dance Ensemble, Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” at Herbert H. Lehman College, Ballethnic Dance Company, 1996 Summer Olympics, several music videos, and performed as an extra in the movie “Remember The Titans.” She has performed for dignitaries such as Andrew Young, Desmond Tutu, The King and Secretary of Travel for Oshogbo State, Nigeria, Fulton County Commissioners, Mayor’s for the City of Atlanta, East Point and College Park, Georgia.

    She is a part-time Assistant Professor of Dance at Kennesaw State University and has conducted dance workshops at Gwinnett Technical College, Georgia Tech University, Swarthmore College, Pace Academy, The Lovett School, Trinity School and has choreographed Coronation Events for Clark College.

    Ms. Howard’s community involvement includes providing dance and African drum instruction to a Youth Enrichment Program for the past 10 years. This program provides instruction in arts and culture to low-income inner city youth in Atlanta. She has worked with the homeless by assisting them with access to housing resources, medical care, mental health, substance abuse and social services. For two years, Ms. Howard volunteered at the Fulton County Drug Court and homeless shelter for substance abusing males and provided trainings and instruction in stress management, Tai Chi, and African drumming. She has facilitated community Red Ribbon Campaigns from 1993-1998, and facilitated the “Super” Program at three local High Schools, and has facilitated stress management classes for hundreds of Fulton County employees. Ms. Howard is founder, director, instructor, and choreographer for the “Edeliegba” H.J.C. Bowden Senior Dance Ensemble, a traveling dance troupe comprised of male and female senior citizens aged 60 years and older. Ms. Howard has travelled to West Africa as a cultural exchange dance instructor and has shared her knowledge both in Africa and in the states.

    Theresa M. Howard is the recipient of the 1996 W.O.M.E.N. Community Service Award.

    Ms. Howard is the widow of Mr. Frankie Howard, and the mother of five children, three boys, two girls, and the grandmother of a precious granddaughter.

  • Prof. Jen MacQueen

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    B.S. in Dance Education, Georgia State University
    Areas of Emphasis: Tap, Musical Theatre, Jazz
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    Jen MacQueen has workshopped new tap pieces for, shared the bill with, and performed alongside many well-known tappers, such as Savion Glover, Brenda Bufalino, Barbara Duffy, Gregory Hines, Harold Nicholas (of the Nicholas Brothers), Buster Brown, Baakari Wilder, Josh Hilberman, Ayodele Casel, Tony Waag and Lady Di Walker, plus many others. Jen honed her skills as a rhythm tap teacher and choreographer while she danced professionally with The Tap Collective , a rhythm tap company in New York.

    Past performance credits include: Pre-Broadway: Laura (title role) and Frankenstein – The Musical. Off-Broadway: Be, New Faces, Fear Of, Vaudeville 2000, That Other Woman’s Child and The Elegance and Comedy of Tap at New York’s Town Hall Theatre. Off-Off Broadway: A Birthday Surprise, Sky Over Ninevah, Paradise Lost, Take A Chance and Steps Beyond . National Tours: Promises Promises. Recent Regional Theatre: Cats, Chicago, Phantom, Anything Goes, Guys and Dolls, Godspell, Sophisticated Ladies, Smoke On the Mountain, The Sanders’ Family Christmas and The 1940’s Radio Hour .

    Past choreography credits include: Off-Broadway: Be, New Faces of 2001, Fear Of, Vaudeville 2000 and The Elegance and Comedy of Tap. Off-Off Broadway: Cannibal: The Musical, A Birthday Surprise, Mag Mor and The Broadway Dance Performance Outlet. National Tours: Red Hot and Cole and Promises Promises (tap sections). Recent Regional Theatre: Mary Poppins, Sweet Charity, A Chorus Line, Singin’ in the Rain, Shrew: The Musical, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, Smokey Joe’s Café, Cabaret, Annie Get Your Gun, Fiddler On the Roof, Chicago, A Year With Frog & Toad, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The World Goes ‘Round, Pippin, Company, The 1940’s Radio Hour, and many more.

    For the past 15+ years, Jen has taught workshops and set works all over the United States. She has won a total of 11 Spotlight Awards for her work as both a choreographer and performer in New York, has been nominated for 6 Suzi Bass Awards here in Atlanta, has won two Woodie Awards for her work on The World Goes Round and Pippin, and has also won two Barbara Awards for her work on Singin' in the Rain and A Chorus Line. In her spare time, Jen co-owns the circus company CirqueFreaks and can more often than not be found happily spinning on her Cyr Wheel.

  • Prof. Rifka Mayani

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    M.B.A., Kennesaw State University
    Indian Classical Dance training under Guru Kalyan Sundaram Pillai
    Area of Emphasis: Indian Classical Dance
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    Rifka Mayani is a graduate from one of India’s premier dance institutions - Sri Rajarajeshwari Bharatha Natyam Kala Mandir, Mumbai. Since her initial training at the tender age of 6, Rifka has studied and performed this Indian classical art form for more than 35years under the tutelage of Guru Kalyan Sundaram Pillai. Her performances over the years both in India and the USA, have included several original works by her Guruji. In addition to her intensive study of Bharatha Natyam, Rifka’s academic pursuit has led her to earn several degrees - an MBA from Kennesaw State University (KSU) in 1997; a Bachelor’s in Law (LLB) in 1994 and a Bachelor’s in Arts (BA) with a Political Science concentration in 1991; both from the University of Mumbai, India. Rifka currently serves as the Associate Director for Enterprise Systems and Services at KSU and is as an affiliated faculty in the Asian Studies Program.

    Highlights of Rifka’s performances in USA:
    • Solo performance for Diversity Luncheon at KSU (2005)
    • AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) annual convention (1999)
    • Solo performance for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1999)
    • Solo performance for a special KSU event hosting all the Continuing Education Deans within the Board of Regents (1997)
    • US tour performances with the Raja Rajeshwari Dance School disciples from India, performing original dance dramas and thematic presentations of Vasanthavalli-Thirikuttrala Kuravanji and Jaya Jaya Sankara at 18 varied venues (1996)
    • Invited to perform at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics - Motorola Pavilion in the Olympic Village, for executives and guests during the World Games (Choreographed and trained 12 KSU students for these special 4 performances)
    • Solo performance for the welcome reception of the Swiss Consul General (1995)
    • The unveiling of the Indian Saree at the High Museum (1995) with Guest of Honor Mrs. Meera Shankar, then Minister of Commerce from India, and now the Indian Ambassador to the USA in Washington, DC
    • An intense two and half-hour solo dance recital at the Stillwell Theater at KSU (1995)
    • Routine guest lectures/demonstrations for KSU classes on Diversity & Asian studies (1995 – Current)
    Rifka is the artistic director and choreographer for Tandav Themes Dance Academy, an Indian Classical Dance School of “Bharatha Natyam” in Atlanta, for young aspirants of the chiseled dance discipline. Through this school Rifka imparts knowledge of this ancient art from in the pure Thanjavur style. As Choreographer & Artistic Director for Tandav Themes Dance Academy, some key performances with students include:
    • Rhythms of India (2009)
    • Who’s Who Among Asian Americans, Leaders and Legends Awards (2009)
    • Asian American Heritage Foundation Gala (2009)

  • Prof. Momchil Mladenov

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    B.A. National Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria
    Area of Emphasis: Ballet
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    Mr. Mladenov is a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Bulgaria and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

    A native of Bulgaria, Mr. Mladenov trained in the Vaganova Method at the National School of Ballet in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 1984 to 1993. In 1997 he earned a B.A. degree from the National Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria. His honors and awards include Laureate of Arabesque Competition and the prize for best performance in P.I. Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, Perm, Russia (1998), Laureate of Masako Ohya World Ballet Competition, Osaka, Japan (1995), prize for Best Partner in "seniors" category at the National Ballet Competition, Dobritsch, Bulgaria, and a nomination for the prestigious award, “Crystal Lire,” in the field of performing arts. Mr. Mladenov first came to America as a dancer and Ballet Master at the University of Texas in El Paso, under the directorship of Ingeborg Heuser. He assisted choreographer Kathryn Posin and danced the lead in her production of Scheherazade, at Milwaukee Ballet. For the past five years, Mr. Mladenov has been Assistant Director of the Syracuse University Summer Dance Intensive, under the artistic leadership of Danita Emma. In 2010, Mr. Mladenov founded Cultural Bridges Association with its mission to expand the repertoire of Bulgarian ballet and enhance its standing by introducing the dancers to the diverse range of American Ballet. As the first project in 2011, Cultural Bridges presented The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and the National Ballet of Bulgaria in a shared program titled "Balanchine and Farrell: American Ballet for Bulgaria" at the National Opera House in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2012, the second program featured Balanchine’s famed La Source performed by The National Ballet of Bulgaria dancers. In both projects, Mr. Mladenov choreographed and premiered two new ballets for the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria.

    Cultural Bridges 3rd project of American Ballet for Bulgaria 2013 was of their most ambitious projects to date. The program included works of George Balanchine, William Forsythe and Jerome Robbins performed by National Ballet of Bulgaria with a special featured performance of Ailey II. This rich tapestry of program illustrates the depth and diversity of American dance culture, with choreography ranging from neo- classicism to the African American influences.

  • Prof. Carolyn Crumpton Perry

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    B.F.A. Dance, Brenau University
    Area of Emphasis: Ballet, Musical Theatre, Jazz
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    Carolyn Crumpton Perry has been member of the adjunct dance faculty at Kennesaw State University since 2006. She teaches all levels of Ballet as well as Musical Theatre dance.

    Ms. Perry began her formal dance training in Wilmington, NC with the Wilmington Civic Ballet where she studied with many professional dancers from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Raleigh Dance Theatre, and most notably her mother, Annette Crumpton. She pursued dance in her collegiate years at Brenau University where she graduated summa cum laude in 1992 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Arts Management and Dance Performance. She later returned to Brenau and received her certification in Dance Education for both public and private school systems.

    Ms. Perry moved to New York City immediately after graduation from Brenau to further her dance training and perform. While in New York, she was a manager of the Broadway Dance Center and performed with the New York Dance Ensemble’s tour of the “Firebird”. Her time in NYC gave her the opportunity to study ballet with legendary dance instructors, such as, Finis Jhung, Madame Darvash, Nenette Charisse, and David Howard, to name a few. At that time, she also studied musical theatre, tap, and jazz with Chet Walker, Robert Tucker, Crystal Chapman, Germaine Goodson, Frank Hatchett, and Sheila Barker.

    Upon relocation back to Georgia, Ms. Perry danced for the Georgia Ballet Professional Company for eight years under the direction of Iris Hensley. While at the Georgia Ballet she had the opportunity to perform many signature roles:
    Serenade-Dark Angel
    Where the Wild Things Are- Dream Max
    The Nutcracker- Arabian Pas de Deux, Spanish, Waltz of the Flowers, Snow
    Swan Lake- Neapolitan Variation, corps de ballet
    Five Guys Named Moe- Pas de deux
    Giselle- Friends, corps de ballet
    Carmen-corps de ballet

    Ms. Perry's ballet performing repertoire also includes leading roles staged by marina Levasheva for the Bravo Dance Center: Paquita, Les Slyphides, Don Quixote, and Sleeping Beauty.

    In addition to ballet, Ms. Perry also performed for Bacchus Productions under the direction of Ginny King. With Bacchus, she danced for many industrial shows, and corporate events in the Atlanta area and other states. Most notably, she was one of sixteen featured dancers for the 75th Anniversary of the Fox Theatre.

    Ms. Perry discovered her true passion of teaching at the Bravo Dance Center with Director/Owner Janet Rowthorn. She has been teaching students of all ages and all styles in dance for eighteen years. Ms. Perry continues her position as Program Coordinator and Company Director for Bravo Dance Center. She has proudly conceived, directed and choreographed several outstanding children ballets for the students at Bravo such as:
    Dancing Happily Ever After (2011)
    Whimsical Wistful Wiz (2010)
    Bravo Backyardigans (2009)
    Peter Rabbit (2008) (2005)
    Angelina and the Four Seasons (2007)


    Ms. Perry’s name is also often associated with winter guard programs, and Drum and Bugle corps in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. She spent many years training dancers and choreographing prestigious programs to perform across the country. She choreographed for the award winning Pride of Cincinnati from 1999-2005. She worked with other programs such as Phantom Regiment, Bluecoats, and Cavaliers. In Marietta, she instructed dance and choreographed for Lassiter High School’s band and winter guard program. In 2000-2001, Ms. Perry implemented the first, and only dance program for Harrison High School.

    Ms. Perry continues to share her love of dance and her expertise at Kennesaw State University, Bravo Dance Center, and now Mount Paran Christian School’s Performing Arts department.

  • Prof. Archer Lindsey Porter

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

    M.A. in Dance Theories, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    Area of Emphasis: History, General Education
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    Archer began her dance training in Charlotte, NC with extensive studies in Luigi Jazz, Cecchetti Ballet, and Safety Release contemporary technique. During this time, she spent summers at the North Carolina School of the Arts and travelled nationally and internationally to train and perform.

     

    During Archer’s undergraduate career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she was an active performer and choreographer for the Modernextension Dance Company, where she received training in Limon and Cunningham techniques, as well as participated in workshops with renowned companies such as the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company and La Compagnie Marie Chouinard.

     

    After graduating with honors from UNC Chapel Hill, Archer entered a graduate program in Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, focusing her studies on dance theory. Her research honed in on topics such the twentieth-century avant-garde;  dance and popular culture; and most prominently, the role of surveillance in spectatorship, and its manifestations in performance training. During her graduate career, Archer also spent time working with the online dance education website, Accelerated Motion: Towards a New Dance Literacy in America.

     

    At KSU, Lindsey continues developing her interests in dance theory, history, and education.

     

  • Prof. Christine Welker

    Part-Time Instructor of Dance

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    Born in Sacramento California, Christine began her training with Barbara Crockett at the School for the Sacramento Ballet. She continued her training at the San Francisco Ballet School on full scholarship under the direction of Lola De Avila. There she studied exclusively with Larissa Skylanskya, Jocelyn Vollmar, and Jorge Esquivel.

    Christine has danced with the Sacramento Ballet, Ballet West (where she met husband and fellow Atlanta Ballet dancer John Welker), and the Atlanta Ballet. She danced with the Atlanta Ballet for 19 years as a principle dancer, after joining in 1995. Over the course of her career Christine danced many principal roles in the classical and neoclassical repertoire. Some memorable highlights include Juliet in Michael Pink's Romeo and Juliet, Odette in John Mcfall's Swan Lake, Kitri in Don Quixote, Cio Cio San in Stanton Welch's Madame Butterfly, the Summer Duet in James Kudelka's The Four Seasons, Mina in Michael Pink's Dracula, Lady Capulet in Jean Christophe Malliot's Romeo et Juliette, the principal woman in Christopher Wheeldon's Rush, Cinderella in Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, and the Waltz Girl in George Balanchine's Serenade. Several of the many original roles created for Christine include Sinfonietta Giacosa, The Rite of Spring, and John and I, all by acclaimed choreographer and Artistic Director of Scottish National Ballet, Christopher Hampson.

    Christine was highlighted in Atlanta Ballets widely praised collaborations with Big Boi of Outkast in Big, choreography by Lauri Stallings, and The Indigo Girls Project choreographed by Margo Sappington. In her first year with the Atlanta Ballet, Christine performed as part of the Cultural Olympiad during the 1996 Olympic Games. Along with touring internationally to South Korea, Mexico, and Scotland's Edinburgh Dance Festival, she has also had the honor of touring to London, England, performing the role of Wendy in John Mcfall's Peter Pan, as part of the year 2000 Millennium festivities.

    During the course of her career Christine has had the pleasure of working with many world renowned choreographers, including Wayne McGregor, Twyla Tharp, Lila York, Helen Pickett, Val Caniparoli, Julia Adam, Diane Coburn Bruning, Gina Patterson, Darrell Moultrie, Steven Mills, James Kudelka, Victor Quijada, and Juel Lane.

    Guest appearances include American Repertory Ensemble, Chamber Dance Project, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, Community Nutcracker, and the North Star Ballet.

    For six years, Christine served as mentor and co-director of the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education's Professtional Division Summer Intensive Program. She served as Rehearsal Assistant for Ohad Naharin's Minus 16, alongside Bhatsheva's Rachel Osborne and Danielle Agami, and with the Atlanta Ballet Fellowship Ensemble's production of Donald Mahler's Cinderella.

    Currently, Christine enjoys living in Decatur with her husband John and their one year old son Lucas.

  • Staff

  • Mr. David J Tatu

    Production Manager/Resident Lighting Designer

    B.F.A. in Technical Direction, UNCSA
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    David J Tatu is the Production Manager and Resident Lighting Designer for the Department of Dance.

     

    After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Technical Direction, David spent a large part of his early career on the road with both Dance and Theater companies. He was the Master Carpenter for North Carolina Shakespeare Festival and spent over thirty weeks a year traveling with North Carolina Dance Theater for three seasons. With Ballet Metropolitan, he toured the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain States and as far north as Thunder Bay, Ontario. He has also toured Internationally from South Korea to London, England.

     

    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 and Nutcracker. He has also designed for Ohio Ballet, Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, Nevada Opera, Gwinnett Ballet and Robert LaFosse’s Dancers from New York. He is alsothe Lighting Designer for Dance Canvas.

     

    As the Production Stage Manager and assistant lighting designer for 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 include: Rebuild, Alice, Winergy, Touchdown, Con Moto-Mosso, Derivative and Hyperkinetic. He has lit the KSU Dance Company at various festivals such as American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center and has Production Managed Department of Dance events around Atlanta.

     

    David has worked as a Facilities Manager, most recently for Atlanta Ballet, and a Project Manager and consultant for multiple construction projects and renovations of arts facilities. He is a LEED Accredited Professional, has project managed a LEED Gold certified renovation, worked on the KSU Department of Dance’s Phase Two expansion and is currently working on plans for the third expansion of the dance studios located in Chastain Pointe.

     

    While at Kennesaw State University, David has joined the Crisis Coordinator program, is one of KSU’s first cadres of certified CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) instructors and achieved both Coined and Pinned status in the Crisis Coordinator program for his training and work in emergency preparedness. He is also a member of the Fulton County CERT program.

     

    Away from KSU, David is very active in his community as the neighborhood representative to the City of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) and is a member of the Executive Committee for NPU-D where he has participated in planning workshops for the Atlanta Beltline project and Atlanta’s Comprehensive Development Plan.

     

  • Mrs. Amanda George

    Office Manager/Advisor

    M.F.A. Creative Writing, Fairleigh Dickinson University
    B.F.A. Creative and Professional Writing, Converse College
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    Amanda George joined the Department of Dance as their office manager in September 2012. She is a 2002 magna cum laude graduate of Converse College with a B.F.A. in Creative/Professional Writing and a minor in Dance. She also holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ.

  • At KSU, Amanda is involved in the College of the Arts Staff Council as the representative committee's secretary. She also serves as the Department of Dance's incoming freshmen and transfer advisor, assisting dance majors in their transition to college. Throughout the academic year, Amanda is involved in all aspects of the department, from advising and course scheduling to managing studio reservations and assisting the student-led honors organization Nu Delta Alpha.

    Amanda is an active performer with credits including roles as “Sarah” in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, “Jellylorum/Griddlebone” in CATS, "Sammy Porter Wallce" in First Baptist of Ivy Gap, and “Featured Dancer” in Footloose, where she met her husband, Kyle. She choreographs productions for local middle and high schools, including Annie, Jr. and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. With her writing, she is the 2008 Hub City Writers Project Poetry winner (Spartanburg, SC), has had several poems published in Concept – A Literary Journal, KSU's Share - Art and Literary Magazine, and had a poem commissioned by the Etowah High School Chorus in 2009. Her graduate work titled Reconciliation has recently been submitted to various literary journals and poetry contests. In her free time, Amanda and her husband enjoy running, shag dancing, and spending time with family.