Leaps and Bounds of the Kennesaw State Dance Department

By SAMANTHA HINDS

What started as a dance minor program within the Department of Theatre & Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University in 2005 has now become a thriving program under the direction of Dr. Ivan Pulinkala.

The Department of Dance was officially formed in July, 2012.

“We didn’t have a desk, pencils, paper, anything,” said Production Manager David Tatu. “Everything we have here, we have grown from the ground up.”

The off campus facilities located at Chastain Pointe has grown immensely since the department first opened in 2011. The facilities now include three state-of-the-art studios, a classroom, student lounge area, computer lab, and both a scene and costume shop. In fact, with the most recent expansion, known as Phase II, completed in April 2013, the facilities that the department has are larger than those of the Atlanta Ballet, and are some of the largest in the Southeast.

“The amount of majors that we accept now and people in the department has grown a lot with the more facilities we have,” said junior Sara Whitener.

But even with the expansion, the department is still bursting at the seams. Another expansion cannot come soon enough. Plans are already in the works for adding at least two or three more studios in the upcoming years, one of which will be large enough to use as a sit-in performance area if needed.

But the physical changes of the dance department are not the only big things happening within the department. There are some valuable partnerships with some of the best art venues and top dance companies in the Atlanta area that are really helping the department grow, and give graduates the chance to make an impact on the dance world. The dance department has formed partnerships with The Atlanta Ballet, Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts, Cobb Energy Centre, and several more.

Kennesaw dance majors can take classes offered by Atlanta Ballet at a discounted rate. They also provide dance majors with internships. In return, some of the dancers from the Atlanta Ballet are taking classes here at KSU to get their degree in dance, and using their experience from their time with the company as credit toward their degree.  These collaborations are helping students get to know what things are like in the professional dance world and giving them a chance to network with professionals in the industry.

The dance department does not just focus on strictly dancing; it also provides students with other options and ways into the dance world.

David Tatu has started a stage craft class to help teach students about how a production is run from behind the scenes. He shares his experience working for professional companies as well as working with world renowned dancers.

“You don’t have to be just a dancer, or just a choreographer, or whatever to graduate from here and get a good education,” Said Tatu. “We do our best to turn out well rounded students.”

“We get them in, and get them out in four years,” said Tatu.

The president of the university has also approved a Masters in Dance program. It will be the first Master in Dance program in the state of Georgia.

“Dr. Pulinkala really had a vision when he came here about what he wanted. He wasn’t going to cut corners,” said Tatu. “He really wanted this to be a premier program.”

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