Student Athlete of the Week: Assata Gaines – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentry
Los Angeles County High School of the Arts (LACHSA) graduate Assata Gaines got a full scholarship to attend NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Gaines is not only looking forward to studying dance at university, but is ready to take advantage of the many other disciplines Tisch School offers. She aspires to a minor in production and takes acting lessons.
âNYU gives you the opportunity to explore all aspects of the arts,â said Gaines. âBeing able to have this experience will help me in the future. “
While at LACHSA, she took ballet, modern dance, jazz and contemporary dance lessons. In her senior year, Gaines began to choreograph, which helped her find a new side of herself. A proud moment was when Gaines completed his senior project. The assignment required him to work in several different avenues of the performing arts as well as choreograph a routine.
âWe were completely the creators behind it,â Gaines said. “I made costumes and recorded them and edited and set up the lighting and stuff.”
She selected the classmates who would participate in her dance routine. One thing Gaines learned from her favorite teachers is how to create a space where she felt no less than but was educated properly. She mentioned how she tried to be honest and transparent when trying to get her point across.
âI choreographed a piece and I really did something that was 100% genuinely me,â Gaines said. “I chose people who would make the environment happy and fun, but also very hardworking and focused.”
Gaines, originally from Indiana, loved dancing his entire life and danced for the Dance Excel Studio as a youth. With them, she made her first performance and performed her first dance solo. A major production she did with Dance Excel was called “Spirit of the Baobab Tree”.
âIt taught me a lot about dancing itself, how I could be an artist and what it also meant to be a black artist in danceâ¦ which was so powerful,â Gaines said. “It was the first time that I really understood what a production was.”
Another life-changing event for Gaines was his attendance at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy Summer Intensive Course. She learned almost all styles of dance and took part in musical theater. Her experience taught her that dance is a fundamental art and she took this lesson with her as her dancing career progressed.
After watching âFame High,â a documentary about LACHSA, Gaines dreamed of going to high school. When she was 10, her family moved to Los Angeles to help them pursue their dreams.
âWhen I needed someone’s opinion on what I was doing in dance, I could turn to my parents and they were honest and provided constructive criticism,â Gaines said. “They make me work hard when the going is tough, and I didn’t want to go to class or train.”
Auditions for college were a challenge for Gaines and his classmates, as virtual auditions were a new frontier. Gaines spent two weeks recording his own audition and editing his footage.
âOur class had to handle auditions for college in a completely different way with very little help,â she said. âIt was a lot to take, but we got through it. “