Leadership Opportunities at USC Kaufman

April 10, 2019

four college students wearing USC shirts smiling and giving the peace sign

Makayla Bailey, Alex Policaro, Nano Zamora Gonzalez and Sasha Zitofsky | Photo by Cecile Oreste

USC Kaufman offers a multitude of leadership opportunities. BFA dance majors can represent their class in the Student Advisory Board. They also can serve as student ambassadors or participate in the SC Choreographic Collective. I asked Sidney Ramsey (BFA ’21), Alex Policaro (BFA ’21) and Dylan Balka (BFA ’19) about their leadership roles here at USC Kaufman.

Student Advisory Board

The Student Advisory Board (SAB) is made up of members of all four classes at USC Kaufman. Each class elects representatives from their cohort at the beginning of each year.

“In a program that is so new, I think it is really important that students have a voice. As students, we help to drive The New Movement and the progression of dance in the future,” said Ramsey.

Students that need to express a concerns or pitch fun ideas can go straight to an SAB member. Additionally, they can place an anonymous note in the Suggestion Box, Vent Box (which gets shredded without being read) or the Gratitude Box. All three boxes reside in the Collaborative Space. Students on SAB also share suggestions at monthly meetings with administrators, then share their notes with all BFA students. Ramsey’s favorite part about being on the SAB is hearing different viewpoints.

“It’s interesting to see how each of us is responding and reacting to certain desires or requests of the other students in the program,” she said.

Thanks to SAB, there is open communication between students and faculty/staff. Consequently, the dialogue is reflected in real changes made in our program—like the two new refrigerators in the Collaborative Space.

Student Ambassadors

Kaufman Student Ambassadors (KSAs) work on events for prospective and current students. As a KSA, Alex Policaro has helped brainstorm and develop ideas for open houses, auditions and fun social events. KSAs often help out at events like Discover USC or auditions. There, Policaro is one of four representatives of her class who answer questions from prospective students and their parents. She participates in panels as well as interacting with prospective students and parents one-on-one.

Essentially, she is an advocate for the program and helps guide students through the application and audition process. After going through this process herself, she wanted to give back by helping future USC Kaufman dance majors. She says her favorite part of being a KSA “is sharing all the amazing facets that my school has to offer, and how it has shaped me as a hybrid artist.”

SC Collective

The SC Choreographic Collective is a USC student organization. It facilitates a platform for USC Kaufman upperclassmen to create self-produced work and collaborate with other USC students. Dylan Balka first became involved in the collective last year as a choreographer. This year, he leads the collective. The collective puts together a showcase every year, which is produced, choreographed and run entirely by students. This year, the showcase partnered with Dancers Responding to Aids to raise over $2,000! Following the showcase, Balka said his favorite part about producing this year’s showcase was in the details.

“Whether it’s creating the perfect playlist for the audience as they get seated, or curating and designing a program, I feel that it creates a sense of symphony as you experience it all,” he said.

There are so many other ways to get involved within the school, whether you’re on the Dance Club Council, on the new International Student Committee, or on the payroll as a student worker. You’ll also have the opportunity to be a leader among your peers in class and for various projects. And then there’s the wider USC community. As Vice Dean Gates, William Forsythe, and other faculty have reiterated time and time again, we are gaining the tools now to be change-makers in the field.

By Lillie Pincus