Spring Class Spotlight: DANC 181a with Alison D’Amato

December 12, 2016

If you’re a dance student looking to try a type of movement between ballet and hip-hop, Contemporary Dance (DANC 181a) with professor Alison D’Amato might be for you. Open to non-dance majors of any skill level at USC, the course focuses on the exploration of movement and improvisation, with live musical accompaniment. Professor D’Amato gives us an idea of what to expect from the course in the Q&A that follows.

Who is this class for? What types of people/audiences would enjoy learning this material?

AD: This class is for absolutely anyone interested in studying the fundamentals of contemporary dance! You might be a total beginner (as in, you’ve never stepped into a dance studio before); you might be an expert in ballet, tap, Bharatanatyam, etc. who just hasn’t practiced contemporary yet; you might be a first-year or a graduate student, a theater major or an economics major. Really, the class is for anyone that wants to explore moving purposefully, thoughtfully, and joyfully.

What is the most important thing that a student in this class would learn?

AD: The most important thing I can impart to students in this class is a more nuanced, rich, and expansive sense of their own embodiment.

What’s the most fun and/or cool part of this class?

AD: I think one of the most fun parts of this class has to be learning improvisation. I know improvisation might seem intimidating! But I introduce specific skills in very careful ways so that dancers feel supported and prepared. There are so many approaches to improvisation, and we cover several of them – these are always moments in class when my students end up laughing and cheering each other on, doing something they never would have expected.

When is this class? Is it open to majors, minors, or all university students?

AD: This spring, the class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-11:50am. I welcome all university students.

Do you have a fun anecdote from previous semesters of this class? If so, would you mind sharing it with us?

AD: One day this semester, our wonderful accompanist Dan had to step out for a moment. We needed something to keep a beat, so I took over on drums…and I was horrible, barely keeping the beat. The dancers almost didn’t get through the combination from laughing so hard!

Read about DANC 181a on the USC Schedule of Classes.