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USC Kaufman students receive Dizzy Feet Scholarships

Freshmen Alyssa Allen, Paulo Hernandez-Farella and Lenai Wilkerson competed for the awards against sophomores and juniors across the country

Alyssa Allen
Alyssa Allen (Photo/Rose Eichenbaum)
Lenai Wilkerson
Lenai Wilkerson (Photo/Rose Eichenbaum)
Paulo Hernandez-Farella
Paulo Hernandez-Farella (Photo/Rose Eichenbaum)

Three students from the inaugural BFA class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance will receive this year’s Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarships.

Alyssa Allen, Paulo Hernandez-Farella and Lenai Wilkerson will earn a generous stipend toward their studies at USC Kaufman and also will share the stage with celebrated performers at the foundation’s gala to be held at L.A. Live.

Renae Williams Niles, director of advancement at USC Kaufman, described the students’ receipt of the award as “hugely significant.”

“The USC Kaufman students were up against not just students from other impressive programs, but also students that were further along in their university training,” said Williams Niles, a member of the foundation’s advisory board who had no part in the scholarship selection process. “Kaufman’s freshmen were in a pool competing against sophomores and juniors from across the U.S.”

As an advisory board member, William Niles has witnessed the successes made possible by the foundation’s scholarships. Past Dizzy Feet scholarship recipients have gone on to perform with top dance troupes throughout the nation, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

The Dizzy Feet Foundation, co-founded by So You Think You Can Dance co-creator Nigel Lythgoe and movie producer Adam Shankman, has worked to increase access to dance education nationally through its scholarships and community engagement programs since 2009. Between September 2015 and July 2016, the foundation’s community programs have served more than 27,000 children.

An evening of dance

On Sept. 10, the foundation will hold its annual Celebration of Dance Gala at The Novo. This year’s honorees include choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne, Mitzi Gaynor, Derek Hough and Julianne Hough.

I can’t even imagine how significant this is going to be.

Alyssa Allen

The three USC Kaufman student dancers will share the program with performers and companies such as Maddie Ziegler, Tiler Peck, L.A. Dance Project, Syncopated Ladies, Marcelo Gomes, Aaron Scott and Sergei Polunin.

“I can’t even imagine how significant this is going to be,” Allen said about their upcoming performance at the gala. “It’s going to be representing us as individuals, but also representing what Kaufman, the school, is capable of.”

The students, who are beginning rehearsals in the school’s new Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center, will soon welcome the school’s second class of BFA freshmen dancers.

“It’s going to be an incredible year,” Allen said.

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USC Kaufman students receive Dizzy Feet Scholarships

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