Houston Ballet principal Connor Walsh. Photo by Claire McAdams, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Connor Walsh on the "Most Beautiful, and Terrifying," Thing About Being a Dancer

It's no secret that I love what I do. I find dance to be one of the most honest and magical ways to connect with myself and the people around me. There are no words, paint or instruments between us and the world. Just the movement we create and the people who embody it.

As the incomparable Jiří Kylián said in the documentary Forgotten Memories, "I don't think there is such a thing as abstract dance because if you put a human being on the stage who has feelings and loves and hates and has experiences, and is made of blood and bones and skin, and has a brain and heart, what's abstract about it? As far as I'm concerned there is no abstraction whatsoever." This idea really resonates with me. It is impossible to dance and not share and, I think, discover something about yourself. That is possibly both the most beautiful, and terrifying, thing about what we do.

I feel this deep sense of vulnerability when I dance. Whether it's during my morning pliés or the most imposing choreography, the responsibility to translate music, mood and imagery makes me become a vessel of human expression. I must listen to what's within myself, use it and share it.

Like in anything, we are not perfect. In order to improve we have to step outside of our comfort zone and reveal our weaknesses. Sometimes it's that pirouette on your bad side or an arabesque that refuses to go as high as you'd like. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. When I watch a dancer, I want to see an authentic connection of their movements and emotions, regardless of the character. I strive to have the confidence to reveal the same.

As I sit in my home through a global pandemic, I take comfort in watching our beautiful community explore the possibilities of how we can share dance with the world. In fact, I find inspiration from it. But what I know now more than ever is that I dance to connect. To connect to music, to myself and to the people around me in a way that no technology can replace. Until we're through this period, I will slip and slide around my apartment with everyone else. But I will treasure the moment when we all are our most human selves dancing for and with each other again.

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.