Posting Date:May 09, 2014
A Testimonial by Emmie Graham Irvin
Emmie Graham Irvin
photo by Shane McDonald
Four years ago I remember being asked by an acquaintance, “So you’re a dancer?” to which I replied, “I dance, but I’m not a dancer.” Such had become my mindset after a year of setbacks. I transferred to the Kennesaw State University Department of Dance with a hope I would find myself as a dancer again, but with few expectations for what I would gain from the Department. I could not fathom what the next few years would bring.
Within my first week, I was in rehearsal for Lauri Stallings’ Maa. Shortly after, I was cast in Ivan Pulinkala’s Rhizome. I was dancing daily and was already immersed in a new – for me – culture of forward-thinking, contemporary dance. Being in weekly rehearsals for Rhizome began to change me. I began to see dance in a far more detailed, expansive, connected way. It was the most difficult piece I had ever done, but I felt incredibly inspired to work and grow each time I came to rehearsal. This inspiration continued through the second semester as did my growth with each performance. Through this piece, I had the chance to perform for Atlanta Ballet, at the Rialto Center for the Arts for Off the Edge, Cobb Energy Center for Synergy, the American College Dance Festival Southeastern Conference, and – ultimately – at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for the ACDFA National Gala concert. These performance experiences – and many more during my time in the Department – were beyond anything I thought a college dance program could offer.
The Department of Dance not only offers many performance opportunities, but has an incredible faculty and staff, classes in dance technique and analysis, collaborations within the community, and a healthy learning environment for the students. Especially for a program so young, all of the above are not typically found in one department. I am still blown away by the caliber of the faculty; each instructor has a remarkable wealth of experience and knowledge and wants to use these to aid, encourage, and inspire each student. As a student, one not only has the chance to work with all faculty in all techniques, but can take advantage of opportunities with collaborations with Atlanta Ballet, gloAtl, Dance Canvas, the Rialto Center for the Arts, and the Cobb Energy Center. Students are encouraged to have artistic, technical, and scholarly growth. Above all, they are encouraged to find their place as artistic individuals within this world. This puts the KSU Department of Dance on a philosophical level above many other departments.
Being a student in this Department changed me as a dancer and person. It gave me a more intellectual and holistic view of dance as an art form, pushed me technically and artistically, offered inspirations and healthy challenges, and provided countless experiences that were unimaginable for me. I could not have made a better decision in coming to this Department, and I am constantly grateful for all it has given me. To quote Dr. Pulinkala, “There is no such thing as failure; there are just paths in life.” I remember this daily, and I remember that I don’t just dance – I am a dancer and an artist.
-Emmie Graham Irvin, dance student