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McNeese SAGE lecture set

January 22, 2018 | McNeese Public Relations
Book cover with a woman dressed in a ball gown with a crown and scepter

Full cover photo of Jen's book. A woman stands posing in a ball gown with a crown and scepterJen Atkins, a New Orleans native and associate professor of dance studies at Florida State University, will present a lecture titled “The Secret Side of Mardi Gras: New Orleans Carnival Balls, 1870-1920” at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, in the McNeese State University SEED Center as part of the 2018 Spring Sage Series.

 Mardi Gras isn’t only about the parades the public sees, according to Atkins.

“A large part of the celebration takes place behind the scenes, organized by and for the members of a krewe, which is an organization that puts on a parade or ball during Mardi Gras. These secret events often take the form of lavish private balls, where krewe members cultivate a sense of fraternity and shared values away from the prying eyes of public,” says Atkins.

Her lecture will draw heavily from her book, “New Orleans Carnival Balls,” which examines the secret traditions of some of Mardi Gras’ most famous krewes in depth. The book uses dance as a lens to examine carnival ball traditions as well, while also providing helpful historical context. Her book won the 2018 Jules and Frances Landry Award for its outstanding achievement in the field of southern studies.

Atkins earned her Bachelor of Arts in dance at Huntington College and a Master of Arts in dance and her doctorate in history, both from Florida State University.

Cost is $59 for the series. For more information or to register, call 337-475-5616 or visit

Persons needing accommodations as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the ADA Coordinator at 337-475-5428, voice; 337-475-5960, fax; 337-562-4227, TDD/TTY, hearing impaired, or by email at