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Kennesaw State Department of Dance’s “run(A)way” Recognized for Artistic Excellence

Dance-for-Camera performance by Thang Dao and KSU Dance Co. students wins five awards

Kennesaw State University’s Department of Dance is celebrating the achievements of professor Thang Dao and student dancers in “run(A)way,” a dance-for-camera work which premiered in October 2020 as part of “Threshold.” The first dance-for-camera event for Kennesaw State, “Threshold” celebrated the diverse artistic voices of the KSU Dance community through original works performed by the award-winning KSU Dance Company

Dao’s piece “run(A)way” was chosen by the American College Dance Association (ACDA) to be featured in the ACDA’s Screendance Festival Gala Concert 3 on April 10, making it the 7th national selection for the Department of Dance. The work was one of 30 dances selected from a pool of 152 applications from colleges and universities across the country. Additional laurels include Official Selections by the Paris Independent Film Festival (2021) and FilmFest by Rogue Dancer (March 2021), and Frostbite International Online Film Festival awards, one for Best Original Score and one for Dance Cinema Award. 

The work’s theme of escapism may be one reason why the performance resonated with so many people around the world, especially when it was not possible to escape the confines of a global pandemic. Dao said, “The pandemic really forced us not to move, and yet, we all wanted to move in one way or another. It’s a critical part of our existence, and perhaps now, we appreciate it more.” 

Ivan Pulinkala, Dean of the College of the Arts, said, “Achieving excellence with this film modality continues to advance our artistic spirit, despite the challenges of this pandemic. ‘run(A)way’ is an outstanding work that is cinematically captivating, technically virtuosic and choreographically brilliant.”  

The pandemic helped the choreographer see the technology available in a new light, and to use it creatively to represent time, space and physicality on the screen, a very different platform than a proscenium stage. But Dao looked at it as a unique opportunity. 

“It was a blank canvas for the dancers and me to explore with our limitations, to see how we could create dance with the film space in mind, and it was an open space for us to be creative. It required a different set of rules and regulations, but also gave us new potential, one we might not have explored if not for a pandemic,” said Dao. 

“To be able to overcome these limitations and barriers that are not conventional for dancers—like space, body, and physicality—all these were disruptive. But we were able to adapt and still be creative, and it was captivating, accessible, and artistic, and we all learned from the experience,” added Dao. 

Marsha Barsky, Chair of the Department of Dance, said, “We are so proud of Professor Dao and our students, and we are thrilled that ‘run(A)way’ has been honored in so many ways, and that the work has touched so many people, continuing to advance the mission of the arts at Kennesaw State University.” 

Learn more about Thang Dao and watch the “run(A)way” trailer

–Kathie Beckett

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