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Conversations with Olivia Katz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Olivia Katz.

Hi Olivia, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am a dance educator, dancer, and choreographer, and a married mother of two little children. I started dancing seriously at the age of 8, and then at age 12 started training at the Collenette School of Dancing in San Marino, California. In high school, I auditioned and became a part of the Dance Conservatory at Mayfield Senior School, directed by Denise Darnell alongside Frit and Frat Fuller. During my senior year in high school, I applied to and was accepted to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). I studied dance rigorously for four years amongst extremely talented and innovative artists, faculty, and choreographers. I very much enjoyed and thrived in collaborative opportunities with musicians, artists, designers, actors, writers, and fellow dancers in my department. After completing the program, I received my BFA in May 2012. After graduating from CalArts, I worked as a freelance dancer, performing and collaborating in several venues throughout Los Angeles. In June 2013, I then moved to Washington D.C. where I taught at local studios and schools in the DMV area and was a company member of Glade Dance Collective. This period of my life was instrumental in solidifying my love of teaching and educating students of all levels in various styles. In 2016, I moved to Manhattan, Kansas for a year to be with now husband, and taught at Bates Dance Studio.

In 2017, I became pregnant with my son, and we moved to Irvine, California because my husband was offered a job at UCI as a Mass Spectrometrist. In 2018, when my son was a bit over a year old, I got the urge to start teaching again. I then sent my resume over to Focus Dance Center in Irvine, where I started as a substitute dance teacher in January 2019 (even teaching while I was pregnant with my daughter!). In September of that year, I had my daughter, so I took a short hiatus from teaching for several months. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was unable to teach in person, but in the summer of that year, I decided to create my own zoom dance classes for all ages and levels under the name “Livdanceco.” I offered all kinds of classes such as: adult ballet, stretch and conditioning, parent and me, and modern. I also participated and collaborated with my mentor and fellow dancer, Sylvana Christopher, and her online ChoreoLab. Using zoom as a platform to create and perform with others was crucial in maintaining my own teaching skills during the Pandemic while seeking to support individuals from all levels, ages, and backgrounds in their love of movement. In May 2021, I became a faculty member at Focus Dance Center, where I currently teach and am passionate about continuing to honor creativity and inclusivity.

I am thankful for my husband, my two beautiful children, my family, and my friends for the endless support, love, and patience as I pursue my passion for teaching while being a full a time mom! I want to send a special shout out to my FOCUS Dance fam! Also, thank you so much to Veronica Elena Holley for nominating me for this interview!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As you can see from reading about my background, the journey has been filled with challenges and changes including meeting my educational goals, moving, marriage, and motherhood. Throughout this process, I have had to learn how to balance my schedules and not be too proud to ask for help when I need it. I think one thing that I continue to work on is honing my organizational skills to help manage doing it all. It’s something I sometimes struggle with, but at the end of the day I have to remind myself, I cannot get it all done in one day. For me, being a mother comes first, my children are my world, however, I am a dancer and artist, always continuing to develop my craft.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a dance educator, dancer, and choreographer. I teach dance to all ages, levels, and backgrounds and I truly hope I am successful at providing an environment that supports inclusivity and a love of creative movement. I can teach dance kids as young 2 years old to adults of any age! I can teach ballet, contemporary, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, improvisation, creative movement, and beginning tumbling, let’s dance together! I am proudest of being able to balance being a mother, wife, daughter all while continuing my passion for teaching dance. Of course, there are times when I cannot do it all, but I am committed to working on balancing these skills and passions. I try very hard to combine compassion with creative teaching so that all students feel supported, respected and nurtured.

In the fall I am planning and hoping to teach dance in local preschools and elementary schools as an enrichment class ! I can teach many types of dance as well as all ages/levels. The option do it virtually will be available as well. Currently, I am teaching a weekly dance class at OLAM Montessori in Irvine, and would love to branch out to other schools as well!  If anyone is interested, and connected to a local school, I would love to discuss this opportunity and my rates with you! I would be thrilled to spread the love and education of dance in your school !

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
As artists, always remember that you are involved in a very important and worthwhile endeavor. Don’t be afraid to combine creativity with organizational skills and to create an inclusive environment for all. Collaborate with others, and don’t be afraid to seek help when needed, and most importantly, stay true to yourself!

Contact Info:

If you want to come check out any classes offered at Focus Dance Center, we have a variety of styles, levels, programs, and classes taught by an incredible faculty, and the studio is run by an amazing team. We would love to have you come dance with us!

Image Credits:

Olivia Goldberg Katz Federico A. Mata Natalie Diaz Benjamin Katz Faculty photo from Bates Dance Studio (Manhattan, Kansas) Screenshot from Livdanceco class, September 2020

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