Many aspiring professional dancers dream of making it to New York City with a well-known dance company. For USF alumna Heather Kemp, that dream has come true.
Kemp, who graduated from USF in 1999 with a degree in dance, returns to campus this weekend with the critically acclaimed Kathleen Dyer New York (KDNY) Dance Company for a production titled “GOING.”
“‘(‘GOING’) is about exploring the idea that the destination isn’t always as important as the journey to get where you’re going,” Kemp said. “I can tie that in to my homecoming. It is like getting to that full circle moment in your life.”
After graduation, Kemp chose to continue learning her craft by making a move to California State University, where she earned her master’s degree in dance. In 2002, she went to New York City to pursue her ultimate goal.
Kemp said she was lucky to have a friend in KDNY Dance Company, a group that allowed her to fully express herself through art.
“It was who I knew at the time, and a friend of mine told me they needed extra people,” she said. “So I got asked to come into a rehearsal.”
Though she was happy to join the company, Kemp said starting out in a smaller dance company wasn’t easy for her financially.
“Being able to dance in New York City in itself was a huge accomplishment, but something they don’t necessarily teach you in college is how you’re going to pay your rent when you do this,” she said. “No one really makes that much money as a dancer.”
Saturday’s performance of marks Kemp’s first return to USF, as she joins five other women on stage in Theatre 1. KDNY is made up of all females and, according to its website, is “dedicated to the passions and intricacies of the female spirit.”
“I’m very passionate about developing opportunities for women and providing an outlet for them to feel the many emotions women encounter,” choreographer and artistic director Kathleen Dyer said in a press release.
Kemp said she can’t wait to visit her alma mater and serve as an example of the importance of hard work.
“If anybody would have told me I would get to come back 12 years later to perform on the same stage I performed on as a student, I would’ve said, ‘Sure, OK,'” she said. “I remember being a student and having people come in, but now I get to be that person.”
Additionally, Kemp will perform with USF’s resident dance company, Tampa’s Moving Current Dance Collective in “Navigating the Hallway.”
Showtimes are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at USF Theatre 1. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $15 for general admission.