Elective students thrive in online dance classes

June 29, 2020

Elective students dancing in the Fall 2019 Elective Experience

Jazz students perform choreography by Saleemah E. Knight | Photo by Benjamin Peralta

Due to COVID-19, University of Southern California temporarily closed many campus buildings, including the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center. Despite the closure, elective students thrived online from and continued dancing from their homes.

In addition to moving operations online last semester for its dance majors, USC Kaufman offered virtual classes to about 450 USC students. Elective courses included African, ballet, ballroom, Bollywood, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz and tap, among other dance styles. USC students represented a variety of majors, such as engineering, sociology, history, global health and more.

Virtual Elective Experience

At the end of the spring semester, elective students typically perform for a live audience at USC Kaufman’s Large Performance Studio. In lieu of this in-person performance opportunity, USC Kaufman hosted a virtual version of the Elective Experience.

During this event, USC Kaufman staff, faculty and USC students enjoyed a mix of videos and live dancing via Zoom. Attendees shared their reactions in real time through the platform’s chat function, as well as its reaction emojis.

Participating students expressed their eagerness to take USC Kaufman dance classes, even if they continued online this fall. Here are just a few of their testimonials:

Ballroom with Jay Fuentes

“During the time I took this class, I was deep into writing my senior honors thesis, applying for fellowships, and interviewing for various job opportunities. Professor Fuentes’ class quickly became a vital resource for my mental health during what evolved into a very stressful semester for me. Because it was a credit/no credit class, this course was a low-pressure way to reconnect with my creative side. It also served to help me learn some much needed body-awareness because most of the time I am pretty uncoordinated and clumsy.” – Erin Pineda, International Relations

Bollywood with Achinta S. McDaniel

“Of all the courses I have taken at USC, in and out of the law school, Bollywood was one of my favorites. It introduced me to a new community at USC that varied so starkly from that of the one I was surrounded by in the law school. I felt more connected to my campus, to my fellow students, and to USC at large. I had become part of a unit – a family of people that had come to class for such a diverse variety of reasons, but all shared one thing: passion. This class and Achinta McDaniel stands out to me as one of the aspects that has made my USC education so valuable. It will be the class that I speak about with my colleagues in court when I reflect on my time at USC.” – Michael Citrin, Law and Public Interest

five dancers perform a Bollywood routine

Bollywood students perform choreography by Achinta S. McDaniel | Photo by Benjamin Peralta

Hip-Hop with Tiffany Bong

“This class helped me realize my love for dance and was the source of my confidence building. Making mistakes isn’t avoidable in dance and neither is having a community of people to support you. If I never took hip-hop dance, I would’ve never declared my dance minor or found the joy I did in quarantine. It was amazing in person and stayed just as great online. If nothing else, this is a needed class especially if we’re online for Fall 2020 because of how much joy and togetherness it brought me and others.” – Ahmad McCutcheon, Cinema and Media Studies

Jazz with Saleemah E. Knight

“Having the dance elective has been the highlight of my online learning experience. It helped me remain active while at home and was one of my only classes that allowed active engagement. It has been a great de-stressor for me during such a tumultuous time and helped me to keep my spirits up.” – Shin Yee Tan, Computer Science

Ballet with Gillian Finley

“Taking ballet as an elective at USC Kaufman is important to me because as a pre-med student my life is pretty hectic. Practicing ballet gives me a peaceful escape and reminds me of my strength as I complete the combinations throughout class. At the end of each semester, I am able to see how much I have improved in my technique and it shows me that I am able to accomplish anything I set my mind to. My ballet class has also allowed me to connect on a deeper level with USC Kaufman professors who not only help you grow inside the studio but as a whole. Their support means a lot especially through the challenging moments in college.” – Ariel Vieira, Human Biology