About the Dance Program
The USC Dance Program has recently achieved national recognition in the April 2014 edition of Dance Magazine. The piece, “Ballet Goes to College,” lists USC as one one of the top three non-conservatory programs to consider which offer specialization in classical ballet.
Our undergraduate program combines a rigorous dance classroom and studio environment with the depth and breadth of an excellent liberal arts education. The dance program, founded by Professor Susan E. Anderson, has established a long legacy of excellence. The program attracts highly motivated students from across the country and abroad, who are committed to rigorous development of their natural abilities through study combined with practice, leading to a life enriched by the art of dance.
Working from a solid foundational core of dance courses, students have the option of developing additional competencies with an emphasis in either Performance and Choreography or Dance Education K-12 Certification. All majors in both emphases study together in studio, performance, choreography and dance academic coursework. Dance Education K-12 Certification students begin their dance education course work after completing the foundational courses, however they continue studio and performance work with Performance and Choreography emphasis majors.
Our experienced studio faculty strives to instill a sound foundation of guided practice in the disciplines and principles of classical ballet, contemporary dance and jazz. The program has a long established specialty in ballet infused with the energy of cutting-edge contemporary dance.
In conjunction with the College of Education, the dance program offers students the opportunity to pursue South Carolina K-12 Teachers Certification, in addition to pursuing a degree in dance. The focus of the emphasis is pedagogical, but also includes training in a variety of dance techniques and performance, as well as theoretical studies. Students are required to participate in an internship in student teaching in local public schools.
Performance is as an essential experience and our performance companies are designed to challenge serious students with a variety of opportunities. It is our desire that each student obtain essential intellectual, creative and physical experiences through individual and collaborative experiences. The list of renowned guest choreography such as George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor Company, and Martha Graham demonstrates the diversity, as well as technical excellence, required to perform these iconic masterworks.
Our alumni are successful and have gone on to a wide range of achievements. Many of our graduates are currently dancing professionally, completing graduate work and/or working as dance teachers and administrators in colleges, universities and other educational and professional organizations.
The USC Dance Program has a history of excellence outside of the collegiate academic sphere, as well. The University is proud to sponsor the USC Dance Conservatory, a community program that trains young dancers after school. This community outreach program also serves our university dance students, many of whom gain valuable experiences as instructors. We are also proud to be the host institution for SC Summer Dance Conservatory, a three-week intensive for pre-professional dancers aged 11 and older. Other programs the department regularly hosts include the Southeastern Regionals of the Youth America Grand Prix and the South Carolina Festival of Dance.
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About the USC Dance Company
The USC Dance Company, more than 72 members strong, performs several major concerts per year at The Koger Center for the Arts, as well as guest performances throughout the east coast. Company members are auditioned twice a year and are selected for technical merit as well as artistic achievement. The USC Dance Company is recognized both nationally and internationally as a pre-professional dance ensemble as finely tuned as a symphony orchestra. The company members have performed in Spain and The International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, as well as the National Gala for the American College Dance Festival hosted by the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Alumni are currently dancing professionally, working as dance professors and administrators in universities and other educational and professional organizations.
Since its inception, the USC Dance Company has grown from the vision of its founder, Professor Susan E. Anderson, to become the multi-faceted company it is today. Throughout the USC Dance Company’s history, Professor Anderson has been the lead choreographer in the creation of full-length ballets such as The Taming of the Shrew, Star Crossed Lovers, Ondine, Planet Dance, Sylvia, Scheherazade, Phantom of the Opera and Peter Pan, which featured gold medalist Stanislav Issaev.
Our repertoire runs the gamut from the treasured classical ballets of Marius Petipa and George Balanchine to the modern work of Twyla Tharp, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Lila York and Kevin O'Day. Recent performances include:
- Stars and Stripes by George Balanchine
- Mozartiana by George Balanchine
- Western Symphony by George Balanchine
- Deuce Coupe by Twyla Tharp
- Eight Jelly Rolls by Twyla Tharp
- Great Galloping Gottschalk by Lynne Taylor-Corbett
- Viola Alone by Kevin O'Day
- Diversion of Angels by Martha Graham
- Steps in the Street by Martha Graham
- Tensile Involvement by Alwin Nikolais
We regularly bring in well-known guest artists to stage major pieces or create work on our dancers. Recent guests include Chris Uchida, Lila York, Nathan Trice, Celia Rowlson-Hall and Helen Pickett. Original works by Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis, of our resident professional dance company Wideman/Davis Dance, are also regularly created for (and with) our dancers. Students also have the opportunity to stage their own choreography in our Student Choreography Showcase performances.
A highlight of our performance season is our annual Ballet Stars of New York concert, which features principal dancers from the New York City Ballet performing alongside our student company. Past dancers include such luminaries as Wendy Whalen, Albert Evans, Sara Mearns, Charles Askegard and Jared Angle.
About Our Faculty
Stacey Calvert, Associate Artistic Director of the USC Dance Company, danced as a soloist for the New York City Ballet in New York for two decades. Her work has received critical acclaim on a national level, especially her staging of George Balanchine's masterpieces for the USC Dance Company. She also created for the USC Board of Dance a gala fundraiser, Ballet Stars of New York, featuring principal dancers from the New York City Ballet performing alongside the USC Dance Company. Select works in the repertory include Apollo, Who Cares?, Tarantella, Walpurgisnacht , Waltz Fantasy , Allegro Brilliant, Donizetti, La Source, Serenade, Mozartiana , and Western Symphony. In recent years, she was instrumental in securing Alan Hineline’s Twist , which won entry into the nationals for the American College Dance Gala. She has also presented Ballet Stars of New York for the Augusta Ballet, and in Charleston with the Symphony Orchestra.
Kyra Strasberg, Distinguished Artist in Residence, is a former Principal dancer from the Boston Ballet. She is known for the artistry and human quality that she brought to the stage. Among her many roles are Odette/Odile, the Lilac fairy, Myrtha, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Medora, Cleopatra, and Fate in Choo San Goh’s Romeo and Juliet. Her Balanchine repertoire includes Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies, Tzigane, Mozartiana, Serenade, Who Cares? and Apollo, among others. She has worked with Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Bebe Miller, Ben Stevenson, Lila York, and Suzanne Farrell. Her incredibly well-rounded background makes her fantastically suited to teach and coach our students. Through her rich past, Ms. Strasberg continues to bring much energy and excitement to the USC Dance Company. She is responsible for bringing in Lila York’s modern classic, Celts, in 2009. In 2010, she staged Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Great Galloping Gottschalk for the USC Dance Company.
Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis bring their renowned contemporary dance expertise to the USC Dance family. Their company, Wideman/Davis Dance, performs all over the country, as well as here in Columbia and at the university.
Thaddeus Davis was featured in Dance Magazine’s January 2002 issue as one of “25 To Watch In The World.” The premiere of his first choreographic work, Once Before Twice After, was named one of the top ten moments in dance for 2002 by The New York Times, calling it “reassuring evidence of New York dance’s promising future.” A year later he was the 2003 recipient of the prestigious Choo San Goh Award for Choreography. In 2006, he received First Prize in Ballet Austin’s New American Talent/Dance Choreography Competition. Mr. Davis danced with Donald Byrd/The Group for four years, where he also served as Mr. Byrd’s creative assistant. In addition, he has danced with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Fukuoka City Ballet, Atlanta Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY (Dance Galaxy). As a teacher and choreographer, he has done residencies at The Juilliard School, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Butler University, Arizona State University, Ballet Austin Academy, and has served as guest faculty at The Alabama School of Fine Arts. Thaddeus directs a contemporary dance concert each year for the USC Dance Program, and is responsible for bringing in such notable guest artists as Helen Pickett and Nathan Trice.
Tanya Wideman-Davis has been noted by New York Dance Fax as “distinctive for the power of her secure pointe work and her personality.” She has received International acclaim and was given the honor of “Best Female Dancer of 2001-2002” by Dance Europe magazine. Ms. Wideman-Davis has trained with some of the premiere schools in the country, starting with The Academy of Movement and Music, The Ruth Page Dance Foundation, The Joffrey Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Chicago City Ballet, and The Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 1993 she was invited to join The Dance Theatre of Harlem where she danced works by Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Michael Smuin, Geoffrey Holder, John Taras, Billy Wilson, John Alleyne, Alonzo King, Vincent Mantsoe, Jose Limon, Choo San Goh, and Dwight Rhoden. Ms. Wideman-Davis joined The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago in 1999 where she danced many roles in the company’s vast repetoire. Upon returning to Dance Theatre of Harlem she was named Principal Dancer. As Co-Artistic Director of Wideman/Davis Dance, she has assisted in creating new works and setting existing works for Ballet Memphis, Phrenic New Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY (Dance Galaxy), The Juilliard School, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Reflexions Dance Company, Alabama School of Fine Arts, and Wideman/Davis Dance.