Student Blog: Welcoming the new class

August 24, 2016

By Celine Kiner

The class of 2020 is small; their entire class of 18 is barely more than half of the sophomore class’ 33. Yet let me indulge in a cliché by saying that what these dancers lack in size (and they’re not literally lacking in size–Mariana is one of the Kaufman school’s tallest dancers, especially in her pointe shoes), they more than make up for in technique. To be honest, I think that every one of them has impressed me in ballet class alone, not to mention repertory and even at our beginning-of-the-year dance party.

The build of this class is obviously different than ours; they’re of course younger, but they seem so mature, so polished. And while some of that can be attributed to the change in class size, it can also be attributed to the individuals themselves. Their composure speaks about the draw of our program, and about the fact that this program has so quickly become one that can be picky about choosing dancers not only for their dance ability, but for their outstanding personal characteristics.

Yesterday in repertory class, our mid-rehearsal snack break allowed the women a moment to form a circle–or a cypher, of course–and introduce ourselves briefly. What amazed me was the ability with which the freshmen assimilated, participating in an eager but not at all forced conversation about what fruits we would be, if we were fruits (thanks to Madison’s brilliant icebreaker ideas). While I had met some of the freshmen before, following them around at their welcome week events behind a camera wasn’t exactly a way to get acquainted with them. But each and every one of them offered me a smile, a wave, a hug: something to let me know that they were friendly faces with kind words.


The USC Kaufman class of 2020 carries their flag through freshman convocation at the university | Photo by Celine Kiner

Tuesday’s variations class allowed me a chance to partner with the only freshman boy in the class, Brendan. While I was obviously nervous to dance with a new partner and find common ground with an almost-stranger, Brendan’s work ethic and willingness to learn were such a pleasant surprise. Sophomore Noah observed and then assisted us with a minor difficulty in pirouettes, and then Brendan made sure to practice the step until he had it just right, always asking me what I needed and how he could help. He seemed substantially nervous, but did not falter in his grip and managed to share weight very well in the Forsythe section of class.

I guess what I’m trying to convey about the class of 2020 is that they are different than us, but different in the way that their strengths compliment ours, making us stronger as a whole. While there will always be a special place in my heart for the original 33 in my own class, I can tell that every single one of these dancers will find their own space there as well. We as the students of USC Kaufman will always be unified by our love of and curiosity about dance and its future, and all will take part in the New Movement.