Dancing into Arts Leadership

February 7, 2019

Dance has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started taking classes when I was three-years old, following in the footsteps of my two older sisters. The studio we attended in Orange County was a performing arts studio, so along with our jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop and lyrical classes, we took singing class as well. We were given unique opportunities to perform throughout the community in Southern California for various community centers, shelters, and were able to touch lives through the power of song and dance. Through these experiences performing, I learned so much more than just how to entertain others, and my passion for this incredible art began to grow. We were taught at a very young age how to behave professionally, which meant we were prompt, respectful, confident, and presentable. I participated in dance classes and various groups from ages 3-18, but it wasn’t until recently that I truly understood how valuable these life experiences were, and how many applicable life lessons I would carry with me into adulthood.

I continued dancing through college where I participated on the Trojan Dance Force at the University of Southern California, and worked as a dancer at The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Fast forward a few years, I was twenty-five, had graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from USC, and was working as a fit model in the fashion industry. I lacked passion for my day job, but found such joy in my jobs teaching performing arts and coaching the dance team at the high school I attended. Since the day I left college, I had an itching urge to go back to school that I just couldn’t stop thinking about. I’ve always loved learning, but wasn’t sure what kind of degree program I would pursue. I found myself spending hours researching different graduate school programs, thinking none of the degree programs many schools offered really excited me. Then I came across a program offered at my alma mater, called “Master’s of Arts Leadership”. I wasn’t sure what all this entailed, but one thing I knew for sure was that my passion for the arts and dance runs deep, so from that moment forward I didn’t look back!

So, here I am, a year and a half later and I’m three-quarters of the way done with my first year as an Arts Leadership student at USC, and a part of the team here at The Gabriella Foundation. It’s truly an honor to be surrounded by individuals who are committed to enriching the lives of youth through the power of dance. It feels as though my life has come full circle from my own days of dancing and performing, and I now fully understand how important those life lessons were that I learned years ago. I am determined to help inspire and transform the lives of students of all ages and backgrounds through the arts.

I believe that lives are enriched by participation in the arts. Whether that means taking classes in the performing arts or dance, attending an arts performance or exhibit, watching films, or even just listening to music. Art is one of the primary ways of shaping culture, and I believe that positive societal changes begin with cultural changes. I feel strongly that children should be engaged with art from a young age, and that every child should have access to the amazing power that the arts provide. By pursuing a Master’s in Arts Leadership, my dream is to become a leader who inspires communities to embrace art and culture, and use dance as an outlet for expressing emotion or advocating for positive change. I truly believe that everybody should have the opportunity to participate in the arts, and am passionate about a career in helping communities do so!

Emily Macer, intern with The Gabriella Foundation

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