The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance announced on Jan. 21 that they received a donation of $1 million from an anonymous donor. The donation is meant to fund collaborative projects between USC Kaufman and the USC Thornton School of Music. The schools already collaborate on artistic projects that emphasize interdisciplinary work.

Every year, the two schools combine forces to produce their annual Choreographers & Composers Concert. The concert showcases the work that music and dance students create together in their classrooms. Dance students choreograph routines with the music composed by students at USC Thornton. During the spring semester, the work is shown in a concert where live music and dance combines, and this year marks the fourth annual concert showcase.

“Their collaboration is part of the curriculum for the two schools and has been proven to be an important part to the students’ education,” said USC Kaufman Director of Advancement Patrick Leder-Morrow.

Although the Choreographers & Composers course is funded through tuition as it is part of their required classwork, the concert is where donations like the $1 million gift from the anonymous donor can help fund and produce the show. Leder-Morrow believes that the new donation will allow for even more programs between the two schools.

“Although we have no formal plans as of yet, I know Dean Cutietta of the Thornton school and USC Kaufman Vice Dean Jodi Gates are very excited to be putting the word out to faculty to kind of give thought to what kind of meaningful partnerships could potentially happen now that we have a steady income stream to support those types of programs,” he said.

In addition to their annual concert, USC Thornton and USC Kaufman regularly work together on various projects across campus. USC Kaufman started incorporating live music into their end-of-the-year BFA showcases and in their upcoming USC Visions and Voices’ Paul Taylor Celebration. As part of Kaufman Connections, a USC Arts in Action initiative, BFA students teach kids hip-hop at 32nd Street Elementary School. In some occasions, they also get help from Thornton students with live music in their hour-long teaching session.

More recently, USC Thornton and USC Kaufman performed together at the USC Arts Showcase during President Carol Folt’s inauguration in September 2019.

In an article published on the Kaufman School of Dance’s website, they noted that they hope to expand their dance collaborations to areas such as popular music.

“While music and dance are naturally complementary, it is when they are created and performed together that they can greatly enhance the educational impact of both. However, it takes more than a will to bring together these two, often different, cultures,” said USC Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta in the article. “This gift will provide the impetus for meaningful partnerships to emerge for the entire future of both schools.”

Leder-Morrow hopes that the collaborations that come out of the $1 million donation will foster even more collaboration with other discipline ranging from STEM to the arts. He believes the new funding will shed light on the interdisciplinary aspects of dance and build up the school that first opened its doors four years ago.

“Now that we have a sort of dedicated income stream to support this specifically, it makes it much easier to plan strategically several years out as to what we might want to be doing next year, five years from now, ten years from now,” Leder Morrow said. “We might actually want to build the program now that we can rely on income to support it.”