GE Spotlight: USC Kaufman courses open to all USC students

January 24, 2020

A student stands in front of an artistic projection on the wall

Dawn Stoppiello works with Evan Sagadencky (BFA '21) | Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance offers a wide range of courses, many of which are open not only to dance majors and minors, but all students at USC. Whether you are looking to get moving in the dance studio, would like to learn more about dance from a range of academic perspectives or are simply looking to fulfill a GE requirement, USC Kaufman has a course for you.

Learn more about a few of these offerings and hear from USC Kaufman faculty about what excites them about teaching these courses:

DANC 280g Introduction to Dance as an Art Form (GE-A)

“Introduction to Dance as an Art Form” not only fulfills the requirement for GE Category A: The Arts, but serves as the gateway to a minor in dance. This course gives students an interdisciplinary overview of dance relating to the aesthetic and art in various subjects. Tasks include the application of the elements of dance studies, art criticism and viewing productions to explore topic such as architecture, photography, poetry, technology, cinematic arts, sports, medicine and more.

“I love teaching this class because it is always a terrific mix of students with an array of different perspectives,” said Assistant Professor of Practice Alison D’Amato. “As the ‘gateway’ to the minor in dance, many students are lifelong practitioners, while some are total newcomers to the field. This provides a great starting point for conversation and the exchange of ideas. Students should take this course if they’re excited to think critically about dance for the first time, or to think about dance in a new way.”

A large group students at desks looks on as the teacher writes on the whiteboard

Alison D’Amato leading a lecture | Photo by Mary Mallaney

DANC 302g Hip-Hop Don’t Stop: Exploring Black Vernacular Dance (GE-A)

Through “Hip-Hop Don’t Stop: Exploring Black Vernacular Dance,” students will spend time in both the studio and classroom, gaining an introduction to the history and practice of Urban Folk Dance. This includes hip-hop, freestyle, street dance and the relevant social dances of the 20th century. Additionally, this course fulfills the requirement for GE Category A: The Arts.

“I love getting to share what I love about hip-hop and Black dance culture. I love getting to shift what people may think they already know about hip-hop dance and helping people deepen their awareness about themselves and how to see others who are different through the study of hip-hop dance,” said lecturer Amy O’Neal. “Students should consider taking this course because they will learn things about Black American history that they were most likely not taught in school prior to USC. Also, the class is fun! We watch amazing documentaries, dance videos, move a bit, learn from the occasional guest artist and get into engaging conversations.”

DANC 363g Dancing on the Screen (GE-A)

“Dancing on the Screen”—which also fulfills the requirement for GE Category A: The Arts—allows students to explore the study of dance in movies, television, internet, mobile devices and new media. Students in this course will examine dance on screen and learn how the practice is influenced by storytelling, camera technology and editing.

“I love exposing this broad population to screen-based dance and helping us all to find connections between this genre and our lives at large,” said Assistant Professor of Practice Dawn Stoppiello. “I include a lot of activities both in the form of dance classes with guest teachers, as well as group exercises using phone cameras to shoot in the style of the artists we study in class.”

Dawn Stoppiello stands at the projector in front of a row of her students

Dawn Stoppiello presenting to her class | Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

DANC 312gw African American Dance (GE-A & GE-G)

In “African American Dance,” students explore the discursive foundations, political motivations and aesthetic strategies of dance writers and artists whose works have enabled the category of “Black dance.” This course fulfills two GE categories— Category A: The Arts and Category G: Citizenship in a Diverse World.

“One remarkable aspect of teaching this course is the way in which students develop a practice of being individually and collectively engaged with each other through weeks of in-class discussion,” said Assistant Professor of Practice d. Sabela grimes. “Students are encouraged to situate their analyses of the course material in relationship to themselves, each other, their respective communities, and their ways of being in the world. Therefore, each semester offers a unique experience and valuable communal learning where each student’s voice matters.”

DANC 342gp International and Historical Perspectives on Dance (GE-B & GE-H)

“International and Historical Perspectives on Dance” introduces students to an exploration of dance as an art form in its artistic, political and socio-cultural climate. It also studies the continuum of dance within its historical context.

This course fulfills two GE categories— Category B: Humanistic Inquiry and Category H: Traditions and Historical Foundations. This course, as well as “African American Dance,” are required in the BFA in Dance core curriculum. This ultimately means that USC students will have the opportunity to interact with dance majors in this class.

“I am passionate about this course because it allows me to address two things. First, how historical research can transform our experiences as dancers and choreographers. Second, how dance as a topic for historical research can change the way we think about history itself,” said D’Amato. “Students should take this class if they want a deep dive into the past, present and future of our field.”

A teacher lectures at the white board

Alison D’Amato delivering a lecture | Photo by Mary Mallaney

DANC 352 Dancing with Words (GE-A)

Starting in Fall 2020, USC students will have the opportunity to take “Dancing with Words.” In this course, students will develop their descriptive and analytical skills for dance writing, as it applies to journalism, education, scholarship, audience development and marketing. This course will also allow for the refinement of students’ social media expertise, so they may learn to connect with relevant audiences.

For more information on USC Kaufman classes for all students, please visit