|Flourish Online Magazine||Fall 2012|
In the Classroom:
Dance majors develop choreographic work for ACDF 2013
By Nicholas Hinterhauser
Photo by Robert Pack
The Kennesaw State University Department of Dance defines what it means to flourish. Since its founding in 2005, Kennesaw State’s dance program has developed into a strong cornerstone of the College of the Arts. The American College Dance Festival plays an important role in this development, allowing dance majors to display their choreographic talent that has been skillfully nurtured by experienced faculty members.
Assistant Professor Stevan Novakovich explains how critical the ACDF is to the success of the department: “A lot of the funding, good reputation and trust we’re getting right now is because we really take this festival seriously.” Leading by example, Ivan Pulinkala, chair of the Department of Dance, is the only choreographer in the history of the ACDF to have his work selected for three consecutive national festivals. “Ivan feels strongly that both our students and faculty are expected to present remarkable work at these festivals,” explains Novakovich.
Photo by Sarah Singleton
Photo by Tracie L. Hinnant
Applying their experiences in the classroom as well as on the stage, student choreographers have the opportunity to participate in the growth of the department’s established legacy at the ACDF. Although two dance majors have already been selected to develop choreography for the ACDF, only one will compete at the festival alongside Assistant Professor Sandra Parks. The two students, Erin Rauch and Zachary Richardson, began constructing choreography for the event during the summer and will develop their pieces through the fall semester. Parks and Novakovich take turns mentoring both students, “offering them multiple perspectives of the choreographic process,” says Novakovich.
Rauch and Richardson’s pieces display opposite spectrums of what choreography can convey. While Rauch’s work is an emotional representation of human nature containing only two dancers, Richardson’s work is more conceptual, using more dancers in order to embody the idea of wind. Rauch shares, “All of my work comes from the viscera; it’s all a part of me. I’m exploring all of my dance vocabulary and trying to say something.”
This application of technical skills combined with personal creativity is essential to the philosophy of the department. Novakovich shares, “It is very important to us that we create a new generation of graduates who are both scholars and artists. In our program, we don’t separate the two.”
Novakovich firmly believes in the importance of the festival as an effective learning experience. After the students witness other departments in action, he hopes the students will be “more self-driven to engage in our dance department and try to set themselves at a higher level of accomplishments and achievements.