Kenny Ortega joins USC Kaufman Board of Councilors

February 13, 2023

Kenny Ortega | Photo by Disney Channel/Ed Herrera

From Dirty Dancing to High School Musical—the work of the award-winning director, choreographer, and producer is known and beloved by millions around the world.

The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and Dean Julia M. Ritter are pleased to welcome Kenny Ortega—award-winning director, choreographer, and producer—to its Board of Councilors, effective immediately. The 20-member Council is charged with ensuring the long-term success and mission of USC Kaufman.

“Kenny is one of the entertainment industry’s revered artists, responsible for some of the most beloved works of film and dance that have resonated in pop culture and beyond for generations,” said Ritter. “His talent, vast experience, and success at the highest level will serve USC Kaufman and its students in immeasurable ways. I am so pleased to formally welcome him to our Board of Councilors.”

Ortega’s career spans four decades, during which time he has received three Emmy awards, two Director’s Guild of America Awards, and The Fred & Adele Astaire Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other accolades. His credits as a director and choreographer include the feature documentary Newsies, Hocus Pocus, Dirty Dancing, two American Olympic Opening/Closing Ceremonies, a World Cup Ceremony, and several Super Bowl Halftime Shows. He was recently honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received Disney’s highest honor—the prestigious Disney Legends Award.

“I’ve been following the growth of the Kaufman school since it opened, and when I saw the class perform at The Wallis last spring, I was completely blown away and taken aback by the sheer talent and ability of these wonderfully gifted students,” added Ortega. “It was truly one of the best live performances I’d seen in ages. So when Glorya Kaufman asked me to consider joining the Board, my answer was a resounding Y-E-S. I look forward to working closely with USC Kaufman students as they prepare for their professional careers.”

Ortega served as Michael Jackson’s creative partner, director/choreographer for more than two decades. He has also worked with some of the entertainment industry’s top artists, including Oscar winners Barbara Streisand, Cher, Robert Duvall, Christian Bale, and a stable of internationally known artists that include Bette Midler, Hugh Jackman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patrick Swayze, Mick Jagger, and Jennifer Grey. Ortega is also credited with discovering Zac Efron and helming Disney’s High School Musical franchise—one of the most successful franchises in television history.

About the USC Kaufman Board of Councilors

The USC Board of Councilors is an advisory board of prominent individuals in dance, academic, university, corporate and philanthropic arenas who demonstrate a personal commitment to the school and support the mission and vision of USC Kaufman. Members of the Board serve as ambassadors for the school in the community and among peers, advocates who encourage others to become involved and help move the mission of the school forward, and supporters who contribute to the advancement and fiscal well-being of the school.