Across the Floor: College Meets Company
Young dancers often have to choose between college and the stage, but not the artists of Atlanta Ballet. Last April the company formed a partnership with the nearby Kennesaw State University, letting members of Atlanta Ballet and students at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education earn a BA in dance while continuing to perform. In exchange, KSU dance students will have ample opportunities to study and work behind the scenes—and onstage—with the professional troupe.
After seeing a student performance at KSU in February 2009, Atlanta Ballet artistic director John McFall approached Ivan Pulinkala, director of KSU’s dance program, about starting the partnership. “It was a compelling program,” McFall says. “I was struck by the depth, integrity, and range. All the elements were there, with high standards in how it was performed, and in the context of a group of hardworking students.”
The partnership allows Atlanta Ballet company members to take classes in the KSU dance department and earn college credit for performing professionally. Dance students at KSU receive discounts to Atlanta Ballet performances, classes, and events, and those at the advanced level may audition for supernumerary roles in Atlanta Ballet’s larger productions, like Don Quixote. In addition, Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education will offer administrative internships to KSU dance majors and will share faculty and guest speakers with the university.
One of Atlanta Ballet’s leading members, John Welker, began studying at KSU last fall and performed the solo Lost, choreographed by Pulinkala, in KSU’s fall dance concert. Pulinkala believes that for students at KSU, working side by side with artists of Welker’s caliber “will up the ante.” —Cynthia Bond Perry