Kennesaw State University Department of Dance to Present New Choreography in “Sage”

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 17, 2023

Includes new works by KSU Provost Ivan Pulinkala, two faculty members and a guest from Senegal, performed by KSU Dance Company

Kennesaw State University Department of Dance will present their performance of “Sage" on Nov. 10-11 at 8 p.m., featuring innovative works by four experienced choreographers. Dance students in KSU Dance Company have been learning the choreography all semester and will present the works at the KSU Dance Theater on the Marietta campus.

image of dancer with long blonde hair on stage
Don't miss the performance of "Sage" Nov. 10-11 featuring new and innovative works from four choreographers.

The four choreographers—KSU Provost Ivan Pulinkala, two faculty members and a guest—draw from their wide experience and collective wisdom in “Sage.” They each hail from a different country of origin, offering both patrons and dance students a unique look at the influence of culture and the wisdom of experience on dance. 

“Sage” allows students to work in “a very international way,” says Marsha Barsky, Chair of the Department of Dance. “It’s another way that KSU is expanding our mission to help students experience diverse perspectives on dance making.” In the case of Senegalese choreographer Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye (a.k.a. Kaolack), the students are learning a style of dance in “Borders” that is universal and contemporary, but unique to him—his own dance vocabulary.

Assistant Professor Dasha Chapman—who worked closely with the Office of Global Education to bring the innovative choreographer to KSU for the Year of Senegal—is teaching the students alongside Kaolack. “Most of these dancers were unfamiliar with the African dance vocabulary” and Chapman says they are working on “getting the new vocabulary into their bodies, so they may bring to it a sense of self.” 

“Borders” features a broad range of 15 dancers from every level of their college career, with very different dance backgrounds, size, shapes, and colors. When selecting the dancers for the work, he seemed to “embraced the dancers and their differences, without reservation, embodying the spirit of generosity and hospitality for which the Senegalese people are known,” says Shae Smith, Global Education’s Director of Community Engagement and Outreach.

The choreography for “ECOSYS” is based on an exploration of the science behind the development of an ecosystem. Ivan Pulinkala choreographed the interface of the performers and video as a representation of the biotic and abiotic structures within an ecosystem. The work evolves through the stages of nudation, invasion, co-action, reaction and climax to metaphorically reflect life's journey. 

Originally from India, Pulinkala founded KSU’s Dance department in 2005. When not choreographing or teaching, he may be found in Kennesaw Hall in his dual role as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs for KSU. It’s an exciting opportunity for students to “work with the Provost—to demystify these rarefied roles in academia—and develop a relationship with him in a collaborative way,” says Barsky. 

In “Vessels,” the dancers and Assistant Professor Autumn Eckman worked collaboratively to answer the question “where do contemporary dance and classical ballet intersect?” The resulting piece centers around “bringing out their unique nature as dancers, as vessels of light, playing off these young dancers’ potential, and their amazing ability to move and carve out space,” explains Eckman, who is from the United States. 

Originally from Switzerland, Lisa K. Lock, Artistic Director and Assistant Professor of Dance, has spent almost ten years teaching dance at KSU. Her piece, “Chasing Shadows,” is particularly poignant as she has announced her plans to retire at the end of this academic year. She explains that “time is ticking away, under our feet, so this work is structured around time passing. It’s abstract: chasing, freezing, and warping time.” 

Make time to see “Sage” Nov. 10-11 at 8 p.m. at the KSU Dance Theater on the Marietta campus. Tickets are available at or by calling Patron Services at 470-578-6650. 

--Kathie Beckett

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