Student Blog: A.I.M Winter Intensive 2022

December 26, 2022

dancer in a studio

Hayden Rivas (BFA' 24) during the A.I.M 2022 Winter Intensive | Photo by Diego Lopez

It was such a pleasure to participate in the 2022 A.I.M Winter Intensive. This was the second year that A.I.M held their winter intensive at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Kyle Abraham, A.I.M’s Artistic Director, succeeded William Forsythe as the current Claude and Alfred Mann Endowed Professor of Dance at USC Kaufman.

It was incredible to have an opportunity to work with Abraham and his dancers throughout the week. This was my second year taking the intensive, and I wanted to find new ways that I could build off the information I received last year. At its core, this intensive allowed me to not only embody Abraham’s work but dive into my own creative process and learn from the dancers around me.

A unique approach

Right from the start, this intensive was different from all the ones I’ve done in the past. The application process was written and required no dance videos. Through the various Q&As with Abraham, I learned that he wanted passion for the art form to be the reason for acceptance. They selected a small number of participants from all over North America, creating a cohort style program. The intensive was free, ensuring accessibility for the community and spearheading the idea of passing on information in an intimate setting. Not only did I learn and engage with Abraham and his company, but I had the opportunity to truly get to know the people I was learning with.

The intensive was five days and ran from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days. As seen in the schedule below, each day we had one technique class, a masterclass with a company member and lunch. Then we developed a piece through learning different repertory created on the company. My favorite part about the masterclasses was getting to see the variety of artistic voices that create the company. Whether they taught us their own phrase work, ran a structured class or taught more repertory by the company, the classes were layered with information that I wanted to grab.

dancers during class
Dancers during the A.I.M 2022 Winter Intensive at USC Kaufman | Photo by Diego Lopez

My creative process

In the application, one of the essay questions involved writing about your creative process and how it has evolved over time. As someone who wants to continue creating their own work, I was delighted to write about how I’ve seen my own process shift, specifically through my time at USC Kaufman. Something that I’ve learned about myself is that I love to observe how other people create work and then shape that to fit my own process.

Having taken the intensive last year, I knew that this year I wanted to focus on breaking down my own creative process. I wanted to integrate a different movement vocabulary that I may not be used to. What was amazing about being surrounded by dancers from all around North America is that I got the opportunity to observe and collaborate with people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Having a cohort style intensive gave us the flexibility to take risks and try new things in a safe environment.

In the Repertory/Creative Process class, we were split into two cohorts led by a couple of the company members. On the first two days, they taught us excerpts of Abraham’s work then gave us the flexibility to create variations of it. We slowly pieced together a work for the showing on Friday. It was an incredible experience to abstract Abraham’s work then collectively make a piece from the ground up.

The schedule

Monday, December 12th

10:00am-11am Orientation/Welcome
11am-1pm A.I.M Masterclass with Kyle Abraham
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch Conversation with Kyle Abraham
2:00pm-5:00pm A.I.M Repertory/Creative Process with A.I.M company members

Tuesday, December 13th

10:00am-11:30am Ballet Class with Donovan Reed
11:45am-1:00pm A.I.M Masterclass with Tamisha Guy
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm-5:00pm A.I.M Repertory/Creative Process with A.I.M company members

Wednesday, December 14th

10:00am-11:30am Yoga Class with Catherine Kirk
11:45am-1:00pm A.I.M Masterclass with Keerati Jinakunwiphat
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch Conversation with Dancers
2:00pm-4:30pm A.I.M Repertory/Creative Process with A.I.M company members
4:30pm-5:30pm Dinner Break
5:30-6:30pm Special studio theater showing by A.I.M Company
6:30-7:00pm Talkback with Kyle Abraham and Dancers

Thursday, December 15th

10:00am-11:30am Ballet Class with Rehearsal Director, Jessica Tong
11:45am-1:00pm A.I.M Masterclass with Jae Neal
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm-5:00pm A.I.M Repertory/Creative Process with A.I.M company members

Friday, December 16th

10:00am-12:00pm A.I.M Masterclass with Kyle Abraham
12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch Conversation with Kyle Abraham
1:00pm-3:00pm Prep for showing
3:00pm-4:00pm Showing for friends and family

I am so grateful to have been part of this intensive for the second year. It not only ignited my love for dance in a new way but shifted the way I embody another person’s movement while keeping my own individuality at the forefront. It’s hard to pinpoint what my favorite moment of the intensive was because each aspect pushed me in a new way. Keep your eye out on the A.I.M Instagram and website for details on their next summer and winter intensives. It’s truly an experience you don’t want to miss!

by Hayden Rivas (BFA ‘24)