Meet Erin Dedrickson: Breaking ground at KSUBy Liza Scales
Sophomore Erin Dedrickson is breaking ground in the dance program at Kennesaw State University. As one of 33 students who are the first dance majors at KSU, Erin is also a major in theatre and performance studies. Initially, she had no plans to attend college to pursue a dance career, but with her mother’s encouragement, Erin applied to KSU. After visiting the school and interviewing with several faculty members, Erin was sold. “I have a lot of friends in dance, and when I visited the campus, everything just seemed to fit,” she says. Her decision was further sealed when Erin received the Joel and Betty Siegel Theatre Scholarship her first year.
Erin began her dance training at three and, by eight, her mother signed her up for jazz and tap. She has studied and performed in summer workshops with the Orlando Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, The Rock in Philadelphia, and the Illinois Ballet. However, one of her most treasured experiences thus far in her career has been that of studying dance at KSU. “Atlanta offers a variety of dance and theater experiences for students,” she says. “Many faculty members have connections with performance groups in the area, giving the students opportunities to experience professional theater firsthand. Because of Ivan’s relationship with the Atlanta Ballet, we have been to premiers and special events that we normally would not have had access to.”
Ivan Pulinkala, director of the dance program, has been a major influence in how Erin experiences dance. “He thinks differently about creating work,” says Erin. “He works with the dancers to create movement, rather than creating movement on his own and then showing us what to do. We get to bring the work to life.” As a member of the KSU Dance Company, "Erin has achieved technical and artistic merit," says Pulinkala. Her talents will be displayed in the spring dance concert performances of “Adumbration” and “Metastasis” on Feb. 25-28.
Erin’s background is primarily classical ballet, but at KSU she is learning about a whole new world of theater. Jamie Bullins, production manager for the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, describes Erin as an “ambitious student and a joy to have around.” Her dancing is becoming richer and more broadly appealing with her studies outside the ballet studio. “Theater apart from dance is amazing!” says Erin. “Thanks to Jamie, I am experiencing a new creative process of discovering the character within from an actor’s point of view.”
Erin doesn’t stop at performing. She works 10 to 15 hours a week in the costume shop where manager Sandra Payne is teaching Erin every aspect of costume design and construction. “My skills are being challenged, and I am truly amazed at what I can make. I never thought I could make a man’s shirt! I just can’t pass up the opportunity to be exposed to something new and learn. I love it so much, I actually spend much more time there than I need to!”
Whether it is the dance studio, the stage or the costume shop, Erin loves spending time in the theater department. “When I’m not there, I want to be there, and when I’m there, I feel so safe. Theater life is a great break from real life with so much to learn around super-nice people.”
After graduation, Erin wants to dance professionally. “Small companies offer a more personal experience; I want the connection with dancers on a personal level that I may not find in a bigger company.” Her goal is also to use the various production skills she is learning at KSU. Pulinkala says, “She is highly motivated, collegial and passionate about dance. I have no doubt that her work ethic and talent will lead to great success.”