dancer dissolves into particles

For a few talented freshmen, 2015 marks not only the beginning of their lives as Trojans, but also their start as the inaugural class at the USC Kaufman School of Dance. Jodie Gates, vice dean at USC Kaufman, had the difficult task of whittling down the large number of applicants. In the end, Gates and the admission committee carefully selected the dance majors in the same way they’d put together a professional dance company: They looked at them as a group.

“It’s an incredibly diverse class full of hybrid dance artists,” Gates says, “from aspiring choreographers to hip-hop, from ballet to contemporary dancers.” The class is also balanced in gender—15 men and 18 women—which is unusual in dance programs. “The backgrounds of the students vary, which is exactly what we wanted,” she adds. Meet three dancers from this historic class.

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Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Dance Style: Modern

Previous training: Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, River City Fine Arts Academy

Three words that describe you: Spiritual, artistic, intellectual

Fun Facts: There are times when I seek edification and then there are times when I want to put on my superhero cape and run around.

What does it mean to be a part of USC Kaufman’s first class? It means that God has opened doors of opportunity, experience and growth. I’m so blessed to be part of it.

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Hometown: West Hills, California

Dance Style: Hip-hop

Previous training: Thrive Dance Center

Inspiration: My role models—my mom and my dance teacher

Three words that describe you: Hard-working, confident, clumsy

Fun Facts: I can wiggle my ears and I have a collection of more than 40 neckties.

What does it mean to be a part of USC Kaufman’s first class? It means I will be a trailblazer in the new method of dance education—a conservatory-style program at a large, academically rigorous university.


Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 1_52_55 PMHometown: Calgary, Canada

Dance Style: I hope it continuously evolves, melding all styles together as I become more aware of different ways of moving. However, my most comfortable style fits under “contemporary.”

Previous training: Richmond Academy of Dance, Airborne Dance Centre

Fun Facts: I have been trying to learn Korean unsuccessfully for over a year and I love watching documentaries.

What does it mean to be a part of USC Kaufman’s first class? It’s a dream come true. The approach the school has taken on the new conservatory is refreshing, and I am so excited to start expanding the boundaries of dance with the faculty and other students.