Posting Date: June 21, 2012
KSU Dance Company returns to Kennedy Center
"Rhizome" lights the way in artistry and innovation
By Alyssa Sellors
KSU Dance Company perform "Rhizome"
Photo by Robert Pack
Third time's a charm for the KSU Dance Company as they performed in their third consecutive appearance at the American College Dance Festival Association's National College Dance Festival, led by Ivan Pulinkala, director of the KSU Program in Dance and choreographer of “Rhizome.” Described as a visionary by his students, Pulinkala is the only choreographer in the history of the American College Dance Festival Association to have work selected for three successive national festivals, which occur every two years.
What is it about Pulinkala and his dancers that garner such national attention? “His works are always edgy, unique and captivating. He always leaves audiences in awe. His mind and ideas collaborate with the creative brains of a lighting designer, costume designer, and set designer to help his creation come to life,” said KSU Dance Company member Indya Childs.
The national festival, held on May 25-27, 2012, showcased universities from around the country, and the journey of a KSU dance student to make it on stage performing under the direction of Pulinkala was one of dedication and determination. “Preparation for 'Rhizome' is unlike anything I have experienced,” said KSU Dance Company member Josh Schadl. “Prof. Pulinkala is a strong modern dancer and choreographer, and his movements are meant to look organic or natural, with very grounded and quick movement.”
With the challenge of movement also came another challenge for dancers, one that contributed to the appeal of
“Rhizome”: light. For this piece, there were no stage lights. Dancers lit a prop and held light sticks. The prop lit up, rolled around and supported dancers that climbed on it. Of the on stage experience with the prop, Schadl said that “the dancers had to learn to manipulate it in a way that it did what it needed to do but also dance at the same time.” Scenery for "Rhizome" was developed by Professor Ming Chen and lighting by Assistant Professor Rebecca Makus.
In addition to this innovation with light and props, KSU Dance Company member Laurel Feldstein considers artistry a major component to the company’s success. “Artistry is an element of dance that KSU always strives for, and the faculty is always pushing us to utilize artistry in our dancing. Artistry is what sets KSU apart from the other schools in the region and nation, and I believe it plays a big role as to why KSU continues to be chosen, year after year.”
Whether it is innovation, artistry or pure determination and talent, the KSU Dance Company and Pulinkala have shown local and national audiences what they are capable of. "It was a proud moment to watch the KSU dance students perform on stage at the Kennedy Center,” said Pulinkala. “They received a standing ovation and proved that they are at par technically and artistically with students from leading dance programs across the country.”