Members of the USC marching band are often seen tooting their trumpets and banging their drums on the Cromwell Track and Field, but on Wednesday, they were spotted making their way through the large crowd assembled in front of the new Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center. The fanfare marked the beginning of the grand opening ceremony of the center.
Among the mass of guests was Glorya Kaufman, the benefactor of USC's newest building and a longtime philanthropist of the arts in Los Angeles. Though the amount she donated remains private, USC stated that it was one of the largest gifts in the history of American dance donations.
"I chose USC because there was no dance here," Kaufman said. "I couldn't have chosen a better school. The teamwork and cooperation and artistic ability and creative people–oh my gosh–we have it all."
USC realized her vision when it established the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance in 2012, enrolled the first class in 2015 and opened the dance center for classes seven weeks ago.
"This magnificent structure–if you can't learn here, if you're not inspired by this, then don't bother dancing," said Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer and regular judge on "So You Think You Can Dance." "I walked into that building and I thought, 'Wow, I've never seen a dance studio like this in my entire life.'"
The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is made up of dressing rooms, a collaborative space, classrooms, a fitness studio and six dance studios. During their freshman year in 2015-16, students in the founding class of the dance school had all of their courses based out of a single classroom in USC's Physical Education building.
"To be part of a space with lighting that complements that shape of the dancer, with open space, high ceilings, to inspire us every day when we come to do ballet or a regular routine–it's so nice to be in a space where we can all share that," Madison Vomastek, a sophomore, said. "It's a very sacred area to dance and rehearse."
In addition to the new amenities, the Kaufman School of Dance is also developing the USC Choreographic Institute, a program that will explore the relationship between movement, science and technology.
"What they are doing with this school is that they are developing a common language. A common choreographic language that is new," said Sasha Anawalt, an acclaimed dance critic and professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. "We've never had a school where you could do this and explore the possibilities of movement with technology, with virtual reality, with augmented reality."
Headed by world-renowned choreographer William Forsythe, the institute will collaborate closely with the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC Thornton School of Music.
"I think it's going to affect the world," Kaufman said, referring to the School of Dance. "I think it's one of a kind. I'm hoping other schools see us and hear us and go even further. How wonderful that would be."