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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Tracy Kofford hopes to prepare students for a career in dance

Jenna McMahon
Dance instructor Tracy Kofford in grande plié second position during warm-ups with his beginning modern dance technique class on Oct. 27 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. This warm-up is important for the dancers because it gets their body flowing and muscles stretched.

City College’s dance program aims to train dancers to thrive in a professional environment, while also providing students with the opportunity to exercise their bodies and learn about movement.

The program offers a variety of classes, from beginner to advanced in Ballet, Jazz, Ballroom, and Modern. 

The Director of the dance program Tracy Kofford transformed the program from a casual space where students can learn and partake in dance, to a more professional environment where advanced students can prepare for a career in the arts.

Within the program, he formed the City College dance company in 2016, which has won a multitude of awards since. 

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The dance company consists of 15 to 20 student dancers directed by Kofford and allows for the intermediate and advanced dancers to tour and be able to perform in a pre-professional dance company.

“The dance company tour allowed me to learn a diversity of choreography and movements in a professional environment,” student Adrián Contreras González said. 

According to the director, the goal of the program is for outreach and to bring people in, as well as curating not only technical dancers but also artists. 

Kofford brought Brooke Hughes Melton to City College to be a dance instructor in January of 2014

“I think Tracy and I bring really different aspects to the table, I’ve referred to it as a mom and dad-like partnership,” she said. “He tends to focus more on the professional track, pushing students to be their best, motivating them, and giving them opportunities to perform while I sort of play a more of a nurturing role where I really try to build up self-esteem.”

Melton’s previous professional work experiences inspire Kofford’s teaching style. He teaches the Muller Polarity Technique which focuses on how energy moves in the body. 

“A lot of people think that we have to use our muscles to move, but if you clear these pathways to find energy because energy is all around us, it’s always there,” Kofford said. “It makes our life easier and is more sustainable,” 

Kofford fell in love with dancing when he was attending the University of California, Santa Barbara as a business economics major. He did tap when he was around 8 and took theater all throughout high school. 

He took a dance history class, where the professor put on a show at the end of the semester that he yearned to be a part of. 

The next semester he enrolled in a non-major dance class and quickly began taking classes every day of the week until he auditioned to become a dance major, graduating with a BFA degree in dance in 1997.  

“I just had this draw to it,” the dance teacher said. “It felt like this is what I was supposed to be doing.”

From there he received an MFA degree from New York University Tisch School of the Arts in 2001. He then went on to work with many professional dance companies, including The Works in New York City, and had his choreography presented numerous times on various stages including at NYU main stage before beginning to teach at City College in 2011. 

He attributes much of his success to the professors and mentors he had along the way. 

Kofford advises students interested in a career in dance to not be afraid to take a chance. 

“The first step is the scariest step, you have to be willing to fall down and get back up,” he said. “But you never know what doors are gonna open until you try, it’s just about taking a chance and following your heart.”

The dance company offers an open audition at the end of every semester so that all students can audition no matter their experience. 


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