New York City Ballet hires Kennesaw State Dance Alumna

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 3, 2023

Angelina Pellini prefers position of Assistant Stage Manager to performing on stage

KSU Dance alumna Angelina Pellini told her senior seminar class that her ultimate career goal was to be stage manager for a Balanchine-based ballet company. Now, only a short few years later, Pellini is living her wildest dreams as the Assistant Stage Manager for the prestigious New York City Ballet. 

angelina pellini stands outside the david koch theater.
Angelina Pellini outside the David H. Koch Theater.

Pellini explained that she knew she wanted to do something with dance but wasn’t sure that it needed to be performing. She chose Kennesaw State University Department of Dance specifically for the Bachelor of Arts in Dance program and the flexibility it afforded her beyond the act of performing itself.

“I think students enter a department of dance and pursue a major in dance with probably a narrow understanding of what’s possible for their career,” said Marsha Barsky, Chair of the Department of Dance. “Angelina’s success is a testament to what really is possible for a career for dancers.” 

During her time at KSU, Pellini dove into the world of dance production. She explained that Ivan Pulinkala, KSU’s Provost and founder of the KSU Dance program, emphasized the value of production through the program’s everyday culture.­

She explained that Pulinkala “did a really good job of presenting production in a way that made it important and not a career to be cast aside or an undesirable field…He painted it in a way that was always promoting production as a worthy art form,” Pellini said. 

angelina pellini stages manages production at the New York City Ballet.
KSU Dance alumna Angelina Pellini stages manages a production at the New York City Ballet.

“Angelina's strong work ethic and collaborative spirit have no doubt remained foundational to her success,” said Pulinkala. “It has been exciting to follow her professional journey that began at KSU under the tutelage of David Tatu, where she discovered her passion for stage management. KSU Dance is distinguished by Angelina's outstanding accomplishments, and I wish her continued success.”

Pellini discovered her love of production during her first semester when she worked as stage crew for the fall show. It was there where she connected with her mentor, KSU faculty member David J Tatu

“If it weren’t for David, I don’t know that I would have taken such a liking to production,” Pellini said. “He really showed me the value of production, and that’s what made me want to do it.”

After taking Tatu’s Dance Production class at KSU, Pellini sought more opportunities on the production side of dance. She led student teams, worked as a student assistant for the department, and served as the production stage manager for her senior capstone. 

“She saw that this was a way where she could be a part of the show and not be on stage and be just as important to the success of the production,” Tatu said. “She was always a leader in the department…She was always the one running the show.”

Pellini feels that stage managing is the closest thing to performing. She sees it as the heart of the show, experiencing the same exhilaration and excitement as if she were performing onstage. The first professional show she ever called was for KSU alumnus John Welker’s newly launched company, Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre

She explained, “I was lucky to be working with such talented ­dancers at such a young age. I feel like in a lot of ways I grew up with that organization. I am still close to all the founding members of the company, and those early performances are some of my fondest memories.” 

Pellini added, “I’ve been thinking a lot about McCree O’Kelley, who was the Interim Chair [of KSU Dance] at the time. He was, aside from David, the most influential person I met at KSU. His style is very much influenced by the New York City Ballet, and a lot of what I know about the New York City Ballet and Balanchine rep—and the love I have for that style of ballet—made me want to work there in particular because of him.”

“This is the pinnacle of ballet for me,” Pellini said. “I’ll close the fall season with my favorite ballet of all time, and with some of my favorite dancers of all time. I get to watch ballet for a living. There’s nothing better.”

--Kendall Chamberlain

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