Photo by Taylor James, courtesy Dana Wilson

"Dance Is My Time For Make-Believe"

"I don't wanna go to dance!" As a kid, these were my famous words.

When packing into the car for the interminable ride to the studio, I would kick and scream so much that I earned the nickname "The Hornet." I am so glad my parents put up with my sting, because looking back, it was just the going part that I didn't like. The dance part, I loved. I always have.


One of the most resounding reasons I love dance is because I love people. I have always been a people person; I enjoy being around people, people-watching and telling and listening to their stories. I enjoy the feeling of collective energy when I dance–like I am a small part of something big, while simultaneously feeling singularly special.

Perhaps my favorite thing about people is our incredible power and ability to create. Humans have imagination, and dancers have the power to communicate what is imagined. Dancing with Justin Timberlake is a perfect example of this. His music lends itself to a certain mood, and when I'm on stage, it's my job to go beyond the actual steps and take on that essence to transport the audience to a different place.

Photo by Taylor James, courtesy Dana Wilson

This is a magical thing! It takes great discipline and skill to translate ideas into a physical form. But then again, kids do it all the time. I'm a big kid now, but my inner child still loves to play.

Some things never change. I still don't like going to dance–I don't like traffic, waiting at red lights, looking for parking or feeling late (which happens sometimes regardless of how hard I try). These are elements that I cannot control, and they dictate how (and when) I move through space.


When I am dancing, however, I am free of those externalities that confine, regulate and restrict me. When I'm dancing on stage, in a studio or at a party, I feel free. I control my timing, and the texture of my movements, but I also use my imagination to control how I am feeling. It is my time for make-believe. It might be the only point during the day that I am in control of when and how I move through the world.

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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.

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