Dance professional returns to KSU to complete degree

 image of Camia Green dancing in front of Atlanta skyline
With ten years of professional dancing under her belt, Camia Green returned to KSU to complete her degree after "Dream Girls" was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Bold move celebrates perseverance and commitment to education

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 1, 2020) — KSU Dance major Camia Green danced her way across 32 countries in the last ten years, but one thing was gnawing at her: she had not yet completed her degree.

Ironically, it was a foreign language credit that kept her from graduating the first time; only one semester was required to complete her degree. But the opportunity to perform was already calling her. “I had booked my first job and was so eager to perform, so I thought, I’ll perform first, but school will always be here, and I will come back,” said Green.

At first, she tried completing the semester remotely while on contract in Israel. It proved to be difficult because she was in a different time zone and internet service wasn’t the best, so she decided to continue pursuing her professional dreams.

For the next ten years, dancing took her to places she could have only imagined. Working in commercial dance to theatrical dance to singing, including a stint as a stilt walker at Universal Studios, Green travelled the world. “I went from China to Taiwan to Japan frequently. In fact, China has taken eight pages of my passport,” she said. On top of international gigs, she travelled on cruise ships until she was “kind of finished dancing on a moving vessel,” and made the big move to New York City in 2017.

image of Camia Green dancing on stage with singer in backgroundGreen auditioned for Dream Girls, was immediately cast, and, at the urging of her agent, took the job. She said, “This was the most excited I’ve ever been about a theatrical project. It was really awesome because it was my first time being in an all-Black cast, having a Black director and choreographer, Donald Jones, Jr.” Jones led the original Broadway cast of Frozen, Chicago, and Aladdin, and Green was all in as she decided to “ride this wave.”

In March 2020, the wave stopped.

The COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging New York City and began to spread exponentially in the United States.  

“There was a lot of confusion with the cast and crew as we were trying to figure out how to do it. Could we do a virtual show and have the cast stay in NYC and let people view it virtually? That was an option, so some of us stayed for a bit, then all of us started to go our separate ways with the hope that we could come back,” said Green.

image of Camia Green sitting on stairs with other dancers

She really expected NYC to be back in the swing of things in July or August. But then Actors’ Equity, the union for Broadway, said that Broadway was not coming back until January 2121, and Green’s agent encouraged her to optimize her time to do what you need.

It was a clear signal that it was time to return to KSU to finish her last semester.

“I have three siblings who have all finished school; two of them finished with two degrees. In my parents’ house, going up the stairs leading to the bedrooms, are framed graduation photos and degrees, so I was constantly reminded that I had unfinished business. More than ever, now was the time,” said Green.

She had also been encouraged by her KSU professors, including Dr. Ivan Pulinkala, her dance professor and dean of the College of the Arts. He said, “Camia’s return to KSU to complete her degree following a 10-year professional career celebrates her perseverance and commitment to being a life-long learner. She continues to distinguish KSU Dance with her work ethic and talent.”

Green is scheduled to graduate this month.

She encourages others to study at KSU. “If you want to be in a place where professionals are going to push you as far as your craft and your passion—and want to make a way for yourself, then KSU is definitely the place for you.”

“We live in a world where dancers have to do everything: act, sing, stilt-walk, shoot a bow and arrow, and more. Let yourself be open to other possibilities, and don’t be afraid to push your limits. Look at me: I’ve been to 32 countries before I was 30. I’m not the best dancer out there and probably never will be, but what got me so far is my ability to be agile and flexible, and my willingness to work with people and have a presence of mind to be kind. It will get you very, very far.”

--Kathie Beckett