Student Blog: Performance Opportunities

November 11, 2022

girl standing in a dance class wearing a black shirt

Nina Gumbs (BFA '22) in class | Photo by Alyssa Reyes

Performance opportunities at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance range from large productions to impromptu performances. From New York to Japan and Germany to Los Angeles, USC Kaufman has taken in the works of its Artists in Residence, guests and students to various heights.

My name is Nina Gumbs and I am now a graduate of USC Kaufman. During my time at school, I performed in a range of shows in various locations with USC Kaufman. The following list is composed of performances that I was personally a part of throughout my USC Kaufman experience. Some performances aligned with USC Kaufman’s required BFA courses while other performances were for a special event or purpose like USC’s President Carol Folt’s inauguration.

Mid-semester Works In Progress show

The Mid-Semester shows tend to be housed at USC Kaufman’s Large Performance Space (LPS) a couple of weeks into the semester. This is where students showcase the repertory that they have learned within the semester thus far. Any students enrolled within the Repertory & Performance course will have the opportunity to participate in this show, from first-year students to fourth-year students. These shows tend to be smaller in production size in terms of lights and costumes, but are nevertheless a great way to begin the USC Kaufman experience.

Nina Gumbs (BFA ’22) performing in Cypher Celebration | Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

End of semester showings

The end of semester showings are another opportunity to showcase work that students have been working on throughout the semester with Artists in Residence and guest choreographers. However, the difference between the mid-semester showings and the final showcase is the production. Last year, USC Kaufman hosted its final semester showing at the Wallis Theater in Beverly Hills. Previously, the school would host the end-of-semester showing on campus at the Bing theater. This was a great chance for family, friends, and staff to come watch the talented BFA students of USC Kaufman.

Choreographers and Composers

This is a staple performance for the second years at USC Kaufman. Choreographers and Composers is a project in which musicians from the USC Thornton School of Music collaborate with students from our BFA program to create new and unique works of at least 10 minutes in length. Also, for each work, students lead the charge as they get to decide on the costuming, lighting, music and choreography for their piece.

Composition showings

The composition showings at USC Kaufman are personally one of my favorites to watch. The shows are an opportunity for students to showcase any type of work that they would like. The shows are cultivated throughout the semester as students are given tools and ideas to work with to aid in the compositional process. Last year, Advanced Composition students had the opportunity to create site specific and stage work all within the Bing theater.

Nina Gumbs (BFA ’22) performing her own choreography in the Advanced Composition Showing | Photo by Hannah Doerr


Southern California Choreographic Collective is a group of primarily USC Kaufman students that aims to cultivate choreographic voices while also giving back to their dance community as they see fit each year. In their last year, Elise Monson (BFA ’22) and India Dobbie (BFA ’22) were co-presidents for SCCC, which produced a final showing at the end of the spring semester in the Bing theater for students to showcase work. In addition, they hosted a number of events throughout the year where students could showcase work in an informal, relaxed and after-hours environment. It was an opportunity for students of all classes to socialize, potentially collaborate and have a great time off-campus!

Unique opportunities

There are some opportunities within USC Kaufman’s program that don’t fit within the “regular” schedule. One of our most recent unique opportunities was going to Germany. About 28 USC Kaufman students traveled to Fürth, Germany and performed works by Tessandra Chavez, d. Sabela Grimes, Bret Easterling, Justin Peck and Ohad Naharin. It was a great experience that allowed students to learn more about Germany, tour life and each other—all while dancing in a beautiful theater!

Other opportunities included President Carol Folts’s inauguration, where students performed a disco number in collaboration with USC Thornton School of Music students. In 2019, students traveled to Santa Barbara to perform repertory for USC Kaufman donors and their families.

Also in 2019, students performed excerpts of Merce Cunningham’s work at the Laguna Arts Museum, a site-specific opportunity. And lastly, one of my favorite opportunities was performing in the halftime show at a USC football game under the choreography and direction of USC Kaufman alum, Jakevis Thomason (BFA ’20) He brought together USC Kaufman dancers and USC’s Song Girls to perform an exciting and fun halftime number in the middle of the Coliseum!

These are just a few personal performance experiences I had at USC Kaufman during my time there. I will also say that opportunity lies where you create it. There are opportunities everywhere to build communities and create memories!

By Nina Gumbs (BFA ’22)