USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance Spring Dance Performance April 28 and 29
Los Angeles is known as one of the arts capitals of the U.S., but for a long time, one of LA’s most prominent schools did not feature a dance department. That all changed in 2012 when Glorya Kaufman founded the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, as well as two dance minors, and it has already become a revered school among the USC and overall dance community and in the fall of 2016, classes will be held in the state-of-the-art Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center. Madison Vomastek is a freshman at USC and is in the inaugural BFA class program, and answered some questions about her experience as a dancer and her time at Kaufman.
Samantha Jacobs: How did you get started in dance?
Madison Vomastek: As a young child I always had a creative mindset and my mother noticed that I was highly active and she put me in dance to get me to focus and learn how to be disciplined. I started dancing when I was three years old with Company Dance Traverse in Traverse City, MI under the direction of Betsy Carr. I continued to dance with them for twelve years and I started spending my summers away from home at age eleven to travel and study at different summer intensives. Traveling and seeing different genres of dance showed me that dancing and performing was something I wanted to pursue. As my passion increased I started to look at performing arts schools to further my education and technique. When I was fifteen years old I spent five weeks at Walnut Hill School for the Arts located in Boston, MA and was asked to stay for the following two years of my high school career. Upon graduating from Walnut Hill School for the Arts in 2015 I moved to Los Angeles to be a part of the inaugural class at USC Kaufman School of Dance under the direction of Jodie Gates and William Forsythe.
Where do you find your inspiration for your dancing?
MV: My inspirations have differed largely as I have gotten older, but one thing that has stayed consistent in what I am inspired by is the people I am dancing with. The community of dance is so small, supportive and extremely talented. From my studies in Michigan, to Boston and LA I have met a variety of different dancers and I feel that each one has inspired me in different ways. The people I surround myself with are ones that inspire me to be the best version of myself. My friends, peers, teachers, and professors not only push me to be a better in my artistic practice but also a better person.
SJ: How did you hear about Kaufman?
MV: I owe Bekka Goldberg and the college counseling staff at Walnut Hill School for the Arts a huge thank you for informing me about USC Kaufman School of Dance. I still remember my first meeting with Bekka Goldberg (back in the fall of 2014) and she mentioned that USC was inviting their first class to study under the direction of Jodie Gates and William Forsythe and in that first meeting I knew that was where I wanted to be.
SJ: How has your experience been as a student at a brand new school within USC?
MV: Being a part of the inaugural class in USC Kaufman School of Dance has been intimidating and surreal. The opportunities we have had in this first year is truly unbelievable. Getting to work with William Forsythe and learn his repertoire (In The Middle Somewhat Elevated), having Desmond Richardson from Complexions stage Red the force, having Tobin Del Cuore set Lickety-Split (choreographed by Alejandro Currudo from Hubbard Street in Chicago), working in collaboration with Bill T Jones on his piece Story/Time, learning Victor Quijada’s technique, getting to partner with Hubbard street 2 in a site-specific collaborative work at the USC Fisher Museum of Art, experiencing different master classes with Alonzo King LINES, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Mariinsky Ballet’s Yuri Fateyev (etc), and getting to perform Acts of Light with the Martha Graham Company. These are just a few highlights this year as a freshman with USC Kaufman School of Dance. I am so thrilled to be apart of this program and I cannot wait to see where these next four years take me.
SJ: What is something people don’t know about Kaufman students?
MV: My fellow peers and I are extremely close. I mean when you spend 12 hours a day together (practically 7 days a week) you start to develop a strong bond. I consider each one a part of my family and it’s so great to walk into an environment and feel safe and welcome. They’re my home!
SJ: Kaufman has the motto of “The New Movement.” How do you interpret this as a current student?
MV: To me, “The New Movement” incorporates “hybrid dancers” (also quoting from my Professor D. Sabela Grimes) that are “multilingual.” The term “multilingual” essentially means versatile, which is key in being a part of the program and motto “The New Movement”, because it encompasses what the school is about: being individual but also adapting and understanding other movement styles/techniques.
SJ: Tell us about some of the coolest/most unique classes you’ve taken at Kaufman.
MV: Our master class with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan was one of the most unique dance classes in my career thus far. They introduced their style/technique which highlights of body structure, focus, meditative state and tai chi in dance. These concepts were very new to my peers and me, so it was an educational experience as well as an artistic one.
SJ: What is your dream career?
MV: Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a dancer. Back then I’m not sure exactly what kind of dancer I wanted to be, but the picture of my ideal career is beginning to be clearer. I want to dance professionally on a concert stage with a dance company. Identifying myself as more of a technical dancer, I would love to be a part of a ballet company with an abundance of contemporary/modern repertoire or be a part of a modern/contemporary company. I also would hope to travel and teach dance/repertoire around the world.
SJ: Do you have any advice for those who want to study dance in college?
MV: Dancing in college is extremely valuable if you want to do more than just perform as a career. It’s also difficult to major in dance, especially within a University like USC, because you have to balance your academics and your arts. At USC the Kaufman School of Dance the program is modeled like a conservatory program, so our dedication to our art is our number one priority, which can be extremely strenuous on the mind and body (in the best way possible). The long hours and commitment to our artistic major can sometimes be difficult to get involved with other things on campus, but after getting used to the first semester I have been able to be apart of Alpha Delta Pi’s sorority on campus, work for Trojan Event services, volunteer for Friends and Neighbors day through Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and have a normal college experience!
“Majoring in dance is sometimes overlooked, but if you have a sincere passion for the arts, majoring in them is worthwhile because it’s a personal and a unique in-depth experience.”
Upcoming show: April 28th and 29th in Bing Theatre at USC
Check out website for videos, news and updates: http://kaufman.usc.edu