Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University logo

Saturday, October 23
Billy Hawkains, Professor
Safety Release

Tuesday, October 26
Sean Nguyen-Hilton, Professor

November 10, November 10
McCree O’Kelley, Associate Professor

Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia

The Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University, located just north of Atlanta, is home to the largest collegiate dance program in Georgia, offering a Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in ballet and contemporary modern dance. Our professionally-oriented performance degree integrates the study of dance into a wide-ranging liberal arts curriculum. KSU Dance offers students opportunities beyond the studios and classrooms, including a diverse professional presenting season, guest artist residencies, unique professional partnerships with industry experts, and exciting performance and choreographic opportunities.

Kennesaw State University dance department performance photo solo dancer

Photo courtesy Kennesaw State University

Billy Hawkains  headshot

Billy Hawkains

Billy Hawkains

Billy James Hawkains III, was first introduced to dance from the pews of his hometown Baptist church in Detroit, MI. Despite his lack of formal coaching, the fourteen-year-old, soon-to-be dancer began taking classes under Anthony Smith at Lewis Cass Technical High School where ballet was his first genre of study. Learning at fourteen years of age what others learned at four didn’t come easy, but Billy held tight to the budding passion inside of him.

Now a multidisciplinary dancer, choreographer, writer, and filmmaker; Billy James Hawkains recently made history as the first African American male in over fifteen years to hold an MFA in dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Hawkains also holds a BFA in dance performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

In 2017, he began dancing with Theatre of Movement, a performance and visual art collective led by creative-visionary Duane Cyrus. Billy’s work as a choreographic assistant to Cyrus can be seen in a number of works including “Colony of Desire,” a commission for the Charlotte Ballet that premiered in January 2020. Hawkains continued his work with the collective alongside mentor Duane Cyrus as a founding member of The Black Network; a band of artists, professionals and activists promoting funding opportunities and growth within the global black community.

Throughout his career, Billy has performed world-renowned works by Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Doug Varone, Juel D. Lane, and many more. His unique dance style combines Ballet, Modern, Afro-contemporary, House, West African and Flow Acrobatics, to result in a visceral approach to movement that is both rhythmic and athletic.

During his graduate research, Billy examined religious topics and themes in relation to movement. In his MFA thesis work, “By Fire”, he explores his deep connection to Afro-diasporic spirituality through dance and music.

Billy’s current creative expression is triggered by his Christian faith and interest in the technology of the human body. He hopes to continue his research by developing an embodied–movement–practice that summons the body’s athletic and vigorous energy. He wants to help students think critically about the technology of their dancing bodies and its capacity to function as a vessel of knowledge and healing. This is Billy’s first year at Kennesaw State and he is eager to make an impact with the department.

Sean Nguyen-Hilton

McCree O’Kelley