CBS feature: Dancer Paulo Hernandez-Farella thrives at USC Kaufman

December 6, 2017

Students at the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance come from all over the world to study with some of the foremost names dance —from Canada to Colombia, the school’s acceptance rate boasts a selective group of some of the world’s best. At only three years old, the BFA program is even being chosen over schools like Juilliard—students like Paulo Hernandez-Farella select the school for its location within a university setting. In November, CBS Los Angeles reporter Andrea Fujii met up with Hernandez-Farella who is now pursuing a BFA in Dance and a progressive degree in public administration, all at USC.

An early performer

Originally from Los Angeles, Hernandez-Farella attended high school at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where he majored in both dance and musical theatre.

BFA Students performing Dwight Rhoden's "Gone." | Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

Paulo Hernandez-Farella and Brandon Carpio performing Dwight Rhoden’s “Gone” | Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

“I knew I wanted to focus in dance—I’ve always had a passion for dance, and always wanted to be professional dancer,” said Hernandez-Farella. “So I applied to the best schools for training and honing performing artists: USC and Juilliard.”

After completing auditions at his two schools of choice, Hernandez-Farella received acceptance letters from both, and then came the true challenge—deciding between them. Each offered a promising new dance experience, but his ultimate decision was to join USC Kaufman’s inaugural BFA major class.

The inaugural experience

At the time, Glorya Kaufman’s transformational gift (of an undisclosed multimillion dollar amount) also promised a brand new state-of-the-art dance building, a building that now stands tall at one of the campus’ busiest intersections.

“What makes Paulo and this group of 33 dancers so special is that they were the first to experience it all,” explained Fujii.

Now in his junior year, Hernandez-Farella has performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company, participated in Forsythe’s live LACMA installation and performed in repertory masterworks by George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian, Dwight Rhoden, among many more. His daily schedule involves morning dance technique classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop, and later, evening rehearsals for whichever piece he’s performing next.

Future focus

Dance classes and rehearsals separated by academic classes, in which Hernandez-Farella excels so much that he’s scheduled to graduate with a Master’s degree. While master classes with visiting dance artists through Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center have given him perspective on his ideal career in dance post-graduation, lecture classes in dance history and leadership have fostered his interest in arts administration.

USC Kaufman BFA students in class | Photo by Heather Toner

Paulo Hernandez-Farella and USC Kaufman BFA students in class | Photo by Heather Toner

“I definitely want to be an administrator, to either a college, company or school,” said Hernandez-Farella. “I love being a leader, and I think it’s the best way to leave a positive impact on the world; progressing the future generations in your field.”

He hopes to become USC Kaufman’s dean one day, and to guide students like himself to successful careers in the arts.

“Hopefully I won’t be using my master’s until after a lengthy dance career, but it’s beneficial to have the skills and education to call upon,” he said.


By Celine Kiner