New faculty and Artists in Residence for Fall 2021
July 12, 2021
This fall, the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomes two new faculty members. Penny Saunders will join the School of Dance as an Artist in Residence. Rosanna Tavarez will become an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Dance for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Originally from West Palm Beach, Fla., Saunders graduated from the Harid Conservatory in 1995. She began her professional career with The American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Septime Webre. She went on to dance with Ballet Arizona, MOMIX Dance Theater, Cedar Lake Ensemble and in 2004 she joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
In 2011, Saunders won the International Commissioning Project which launched her choreographic career, creating pieces for Hubbard Street’s main and second company, Cincinnati Ballet, Whim W’Him, Oklahoma City Ballet, BalletX, Sacramento Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Diablo Ballet and Dayton Ballet, among others. Saunders also serves as the Resident Choreographer at The Grand Rapids Ballet where she has created many new works including her first full length work, “The Happy Prince and Other Wilde Tales.”
Saunders has received support from The New York City Ballet Choreographic Commissions Initiative, participated in The National Choreographers Initiative, The Guggenheim Works & Process, and was the recipient of the 2016 Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. This year, she is excited to be creating a range of new dance films with Whim W’Him, BalletX, Ballet Idaho, Seattle Dance Collective, Grand Rapids Ballet, California Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Tavarez earned her BFA in choreography from the University of Michigan as well as her MFA in choreography from The Ohio State University. This academic year, she will teach both contemporary and Countertechnique.
“USC Kaufman is an extraordinary program with incredible faculty and gifted students that continue to elevate the dance field,” said Tavarez. “I’m thrilled to be joining this vibrant, dynamic and forward-thinking community. I am also looking forward to sharing the practice of Countertechnique with the students to further their development as knowledgeable and versatile dance artists.”
Throughout her career, Tavarez has worked with renowned artists such as Marina Ambramovic, Ryan Heffington, Travis Payne, Tony Michaels and Rosanna Gamson/Worldwide. She also toured with N’SYNC and Jessica Simpson as one-fifth of the girl group Eden’s Crush. Additionally, Tavrarez has worked in entertainment covering the Emmys, Grammys and Oscars. She also hosted her own shows as a television personality for FOX, E!, TVGuide Network and Telemundo/NBC.
As a dance educator, Tavarez has taught as faculty and guest artist at various institutions including the California Institute of the Arts, the University of Michigan, Loyola Marymount University, Scripps College, California State University, Long Beach, Studio School, the University of Southern Mississippi, Texas State University and California State University, Los Angeles. She also creates her own work in Los Angeles under the moniker LA DANSA DANSA. This work has been presented at The Broad Museum, American Dance Festival, REDCAT, Highways Performance Space, Breaking Ground Dance Festival, Sarasota Contemporary Dance and the LA Department of Cultural Affairs LA Dance Platform.