Posting Date: April 03, 2013
KSU Department of Dance introduces first education abroad program
Dance students will travel to Taiwan in May
By Tracey Cordle
With much excitement and anticipation, Kennesaw State University's Department of Dance is launching its first education abroad experience. In collaboration with the National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA), KSU dance students will study classical ballet, modern dance, basic Chinese dance and the Mandarin language during a Maymester at NTUA. Sandra Parks, assistant professor of dance, is spearheading the program and will travel with the 9 students to the Taiwanese capital of Taipei from May 10-25, 2013.
Ivan Pulinkala, chair of the Department of Dance and interim dean of the College of the Arts, explains, "This experience will be invaluable to the artistic, scholarly, cultural and social growth of our dance majors. We hope to build on this experience in the future with study abroad programs for dance majors in other parts of the world."
While in Taipei, the dance students will engage in a language course and dance technique classes at NTUA, which Parks says is “well-known in Taiwan and among the entire Asian population for outstanding technique levels.” The program curriculum also includes visits to cultural sites and attendance at several professional dance concerts of internationally known companies.
“Our students are very versatile and they are open to explore new techniques, ideas and concepts,” Parks says. “While any artist would be intimidated to learn a brand-new technique, our students are so excited and so ready to learn.”
Dance instruction will be provided in Mandarin by NTUA faculty, with some individualized
feedback in English. The KSU students will take a Mandarin language course designed for non-native speakers, but junior Caroline Fagan says, “We are going to have to communicate through movement, and it will be interesting to see how quickly we catch on by just watching and observing how the environment evolves.”
Knowing that the cultural experience will outweigh language frustration, Parks says she is excited to “see our students take on a completely different style of teaching and artistic investigation.” She adds, “Our students are ready to take on those challenges, and most importantly, they are very open to this type of exchange and sharing their experiences with students of foreign countries.”
Taipei 101, the second tallest skyscraper in the world (above)
and the Chiang Kai-shek memorial (below)
Part of the students' cultural exchange includes a service project in Taipei. When the KSU Education Abroad office asked if the students were interested in completing a service project in exchange for additional scholarships, Parks says the students were eager to help. Through an organization that offers arts exposure and language education in a young Taiwanese orphanage, KSU dancers will prepare a short performance and Parks will provide an introduction and a Q-and-A session in Mandarin. The students will then practice conversational English in small groups with the children.
Parks says KSU students are “open to this type of exchange and sharing their experiences with students of foreign countries.” Junior Quiana Bello echoes this sentiment, saying, “Dance knows no color; we are all dancers from different places, but we are coming together and growing together to share these experiences.”
Senior Josh Schadl, who is double majoring in dance and Spanish, says cultural experiences “give us a different way to approach things.” Though NTUA and KSU teach the same dance techniques, their methods are different, and Schadl is excited to bring new styles of teaching and learning to KSU's classrooms. Fagan, Bello and Schadl all agree that they hope to gain a better understanding of the culture and the people in Taiwan, and use that understanding to broaden their horizons as dancers, students and global citizens.
Hoping this will be the first of many education abroad experiences between KSU and NTUA, Parks says, “My goal is to expand this program to the entire College of the Arts and to have the opportunity to reach other faculty and other disciplines.” Parks recognizes that one of the outstanding characteristics of the college is that each department reaches out to other cultures. With a smile, she proudly adds, “It is wonderful that our Dance Department, as young as it is, now has its own international program.”