Moving with Hope!

April 8, 2016

Hope Boykin leading a master class with USC Kaufman students | Photo by Carolyn Di Loreto

Hope Boykin, a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, led USC Kaufman students in a master class on Monday, April 4. Despite her small stature, she filled the room with her voice, presence and humor.

Boykin, an active performer and choreographer who has danced with Alvin Ailey for over 15 years, was first involved with the company as a student and intern at The Ailey School. Before formally joining the group, she was one of the founding members of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Later, as a dancer with the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO), she received the New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie).

Boykin visited USC Kaufman during Alvin Ailey’s stopover in Southern California for its 2016 North American tour, which includes five performances at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Recognizing each dancer’s potential

Beyond Boykin’s illustrious performance career, she is known for sharing her knowledge and helping young dancers to grow. To the tunes of live piano and percussion, she challenged USC Kaufman students to explore new movement styles based in Horton dance technique.


Hope Boykin takes a group photo with USC Kaufman freshman after her class | Photo by Carolyn DiLoreto

The class was filled with laughter and a celebration of self-expression. Boykin used humor to emphasize the importance of self-confidence in dance, encouraging students to embrace their own anatomy through movement.

“What I really like is that you have such different approaches to dance,” said Boykin. “Everyone is doing the same steps on the same count, but with their own style. I like to see dancers who show themselves through movement.”

While students kept up with her rapid-fire instructions and learned to polish their execution of the steps, they also showcased the richness of their group through each dancer’s unique features.

“It was very refreshing to have Hope come and see what we build at Kaufman, which is the supportive environment, the different body types, and the appreciation for the individual,” said BFA freshman Helen Gratch. “It means that we as a community have done a good job showing our guests who we really are.”

By Natalia Sanchez