Student Blog: Dancing with Ate9
October 23, 2020
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I always sought out the presence of our smaller concert dance community. Having one foot in the door for both the concert and commercial realms in Los Angeles was always extremely important and interesting to me. I tried my best not to differentiate the two worlds. Instead, I found a common ground where the two aesthetics intersect. USC Kaufman’s hybrid curriculum also helped instill this sentiment throughout my collegiate education. My constant need to expand my bubble and find growth out of my comfort zone led me to the doorstep of Ate9, a dance company under the direction of Danielle Agami.
Introduction to Ate9
My first introduction to Ate9 was at one of their workshops when I was 16. I remember thinking this place knows what it’s doing. This same sentiment came to mind at my USC Kaufman audition in 2017. At the workshops I was able to keep up with my training with daily class, learn Ate9 repertory, improvise on a regular basis and debrief with the workshop cohort. More recently, I participated in a workshop with the company in January 2019. During this workshop I gained greater insight on the inner workings of Ate9. After this I kept attending open classes at The Sweat Spot hosted by Ate9. The rigor of the work kept bringing me back. I also appreciated how seriously the company takes the responsibility of, well, being a company in Los Angeles.
Joining the company during a pandemic
The following year, I joined the company. Our initial starting date was pushed back several months because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ate9 has been consistently taking the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus while keeping our community safe. They require us to wear masks, social distance and regularly wash hands. Once we began in person, everything just fell into place. The past two months have been centered around the production of Danielle Agami’s “Blind LAdy” as well as “An Apology.”
In between creation or shoot days, Ate9 hosts workshops. A small number of participants are able to be in the studio with Agami. They take class, learn repertoire, participate in improvisational sessions and have daily discussions. Due to COVID-19 regulations, we are seldom at the workshop as an entire company, but we are able to participate and assist in small numbers. Being at these workshops is a good tool for keeping my body prepared for the material we work on while simultaneously engaging with the Los Angeles dance community.
Moving on from USC Kaufman
As regular work week hours slowly return and the company is rehearsing more regularly, I can’t help but think of how crucial my time at USC Kaufman truly was in regards to my artistic maturation process. Without the countless hours of dancing, rehearsing and creating that occurred at USC Kaufman, I would have little to no barometer for understanding how to safely and effectively execute extremely difficult repertory.
Overall, what I have taken away thus far from my time with Ate9 is that every day, every class, every rehearsal, is an opportunity for research — for investigation that allows me to grow on a daily basis. Through the guidance of Agami and support from the company, I feel I have found the perfect niche for the first steps of my artistic journey, especially within the Los Angeles dance scene.