Kay Poursine was born in New Orleans, the daughter of Augustine Poursine, the descendent of a French Creole family with deep roots in the city’s history. Traveling extensively with her family in Japan, Europe, and the United States, she studied ballet in Japan at age 6, continued in the United States and Germany until she was 17.
While studying ballet in Sendai Japan, she saw a performance of classical Thai dancing. Though mesmerized by the elaborate Thai hand gestures, she continued her training in ballet but was never satisfied until she saw some years later a concert of Bharata Natyam, the classical dance from South India.
Poursine was fortunate to find a supreme artist in this dance - T. Balasaraswati. She studied with the great dancer first at Mills College in Oakland, California, then in subsequent summer residencies on the West Coast and at Wesleyan University, CT. Balasaraswati invited her to Madras (Chennai) for private classes with her and her daughter Lakshmi in 1976-77, after which Kay received her M.A. from Wesleyan University where she also studied music with Balasaraswati’s brothers T. Viswanathan and T. Ranganathan. After receiving her Masters degree, Poursine studied with Bala and Lakshmi in Chennai 1982-83 with the support of the first of three Smithsonian senior fellowships under the auspices of the American Institute for Indian Studies, University of Chicago. Poursine’s performances in India received rave reviews. After Balasaraswati's death in 1984, Poursine continued her studies in this family bani (style) with Bala's senior disciple Smriti Nandini Ramani in Chennai with the support of AIIS Senior Fellowships in 1986-87 and 1990-91. Kay will study with Smriti Ramani in Chennai October 2016.
“Dances of Love” by Connecticut Public Television aired as part of the Festival India ’85 celebrations. It is a documentary on Poursine’s experiences studying under Balasaraswati, performing and teaching. Kay was also featured in the American Institute of Indian Studies SALUTE to INDIA ‘85 Gala in Chicago.
The 1998 INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF DANCE at Connecticut College invited Kay to represent classical Indian dance on a roster of major artists presenting their performing traditions from around the world.
DANCING IN THE MILLINIUM 2000 in Washington, DC, invited Poursine to present a program of Thanjavur court style dance and music. Over 350 proposals from 21 countries were considered for this event.
Since Balasaraswati’s death in 1984, Kay Poursine has dedicated herself to preserving and exploring this great living dance tradition through her performances in the United States and abroad. She was invited by MILAPFEST, Manchester, England to perform in the national 2001DANCEYATRA Indian Dance and Music Festival. SPICMACAY at Carnegie Mellon University invited Poursine to perform during the Asian Heritage Week 2004.
Since receiving her M.A., Poursine has maintained a strong presence in dance education. Kay has given master classes, workshops, and residencies in major universities and colleges throughout the world. She has extensive teaching experience, holding faculty and staff positions at Wesleyan University’s dance Department and Graduate Liberal Arts program, at Denison University for a residency in 2000. She taught and performed at several short residencies at Fairfield University, Washington and Lee University, and University of Utah.
In addition to her teaching experience, Kay has contributed to scholarly performing arts journals, including “T. Balasaraswati’s style of Abhinaya,” The Madras Music Academy Journal (India), “Hasta as Discourse on Dance,” The Dance Research Journal, Sanskriti, and “The Lotus in Classical Indian Dance,” Golden Lotus Magazine (Taiwan).
Poursine values the importance of interacting with young dancers, theater students, and musicians. She frequently presents local residencies across the United States, working with students of all ages and levels of dance, theater, and music.
With in her performance schedule she presents university level master classes and lectures across the U.S., Europe and India. Past hosts include the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Holland, the Madras Music Academy, India, the Elgin Community College, IL, University of Oregon, Lewis and Clark University, Carnegie Mellon University, PA, Trinity College, CT, Fairfield Arts Center, IA and Fairfield University, CT.