Choreographic Connections in our Community: a senior project by India Dobbie

April 1, 2022

a group of of kids in black t-shirts that say "Dance On!" pose at the end of their performance

India Dobbie (bottom right) directs Kaufman Connections students as they perform | Photo by Benjamin Peralta

India Dobbie (BFA ‘22) has always had a passion for working with kids. During her time at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she volunteered as a Teaching Artist through Kaufman Connections at 32nd Street Elementary School near campus. Through this community engagement initiative, Dobbie taught dance classes to young students to help foster community, confidence and social-emotional learning. She also combined her BFA training with a minor in the Dynamics of Early Childhood minor through the USC Rossier School of Education. All of these experiences helped shape her senior project titled “Choreographic Connections in our Community.”

Working with kids and the community

Dobbie noted her interest in working with kids comes from her experience teaching dance at her mother’s studio in New York City. She believes in the power of dance to make change and sees dance as a medium for discovery and development.

“I think working with children as the next generation is how we’re going to make the changes in our society that we want to see,” she said. “When I was growing up, dance helped me discover so much about myself. Teaching in programs like Kaufman Connections and seeing outreach performances had such an impact on my trajectory as a dancer. To be able to do that for these students is very rewarding. I want to give back in that way.”

The collective performance

In addition to her work with Kaufman Connections, Dobbie served as the co-president of the Southern California Choreographic Collective (SCCC) this year. This student organization aims to highlight student choreography. According to Dobbie, she wanted to merge these aspects of her involvement to create her senior project. She explained that the final product culminates in a performance featuring the choreographic work of these USC Kaufman students. The works were curated specifically for the 32nd Street Elementary School students. The project also strives to further develop the relationship between the elementary school and USC Kaufman.

“A lot of the pieces that we’re performing are pulled from performances SCCC did last semester,” Dobbie said. “I’ve also been working specifically with one fourth grade class at 32nd Street Elementary to really get to know the students better. I’m working to figure out what their needs are and what type of choreography would be the most impactful for them.”

Dobbie also choreographed a dance with her fourth grade class that will be performed as well. The event ends with a question and answer session to break the barrier between the students, performers and choreographers, Dobbie said. She is excited to share the work they have created, especially since the pandemic hindered social gatherings and dance performances for many months.

“Looking at this school in particular, I saw a need for connection through dance,” Dobbie said. “For each student, dance has different influences on their lives, whether it be inside or outside of the classroom with their families or on Tik Tok and Instagram. I tried to bring these experiences into the choreography, and creating has been really fun and interesting.”

Student takeaways

The final performance of “Choreographic Connections in our Community” took place on March 31 at 32nd Street Elementary School. Through this process, Dobbie hopes the students walk away with the understanding that dance offers a healthy outlet for exploration.

“I hope the students are inspired to open up their definition of what dance is and what it can be. My peers continue to expand my definition, so I hope that happens for these students too,” she said.

Members of the Class of 2022 will give presentations about their senior projects April 6 – 8, 2022 at the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center. Senior Projects are supported in part by The Collaborative Projects Fund and the generosity of The Cheng Family Foundation. Register today!

By Brigid Murphy