Student Blog: AXIS Connect in Los Angeles

August 20, 2018

Mark Daftari and Coco Alvarez-Mena

Mark Daftari (2019) and Coco Alvarez-Mena (2019) I Photos by Rose Eichenbaum

By Coco Alvarez-Mena and Mark Daftari

Several USC Kaufman students are attending this year’s AXIS Connect intensive, led by Barton Movement–its first half, in Los Angeles, took place in USC Kaufman’s studios, where they feel right at home. Below, two rising BFA seniors describe their experiences from week one.

Mark Daftari: AXIS thus far has been such a unique and valuable experience. Not only are we learning dance strategies and repertoire from renowned choreographers in the industry, but we are also learning skills that can help us further our career. We’re developing skills such as acting, voice and even combat fighting techniques. The Barton sisters have created this program not only to bring the dance community together, but also to give dancers an opportunity to make connections with these choreographers and teachers that are looking to hire us. It’s all about connections, which is a nice addition to the great training we’re receiving during these two weeks. And because it is in both New York and Los Angeles, we get a taste of the two hottest dance hubs in the United States, making our learning experiences even more diverse.

Coco Alvarez-Mena: Having the opportunity to be a part of AXIS Connect this summer has opened my eyes to a new realm of possibilities within the dance community. Throughout just the first week of the program, we were exposed to workshops and masterclasses not typically offered at a dance intensive. From acting and singing lessons to stage fighting and mock auditions, my fellow classmates and I now have knowledge that will help keep us one step ahead. In addition to the extraordinary diversity of information offered, the Barton sisters have created a welcoming environment for all dancers to openly explore and ask questions. Personally, I have never felt so simultaneously challenged and comfortable to experiment, and to simply learn as much as possible. Through the professional relationships established during their own successful careers, Cherice and Charissa have laid the foundation for AXIS dancers to make connections and learn from those who came before us. The level of support from the Barton sisters and between all AXIS dancers has been truly overwhelming. AXIS Connect functions as a family, and one that I am extremely grateful to be a part of.