Pirouettes & Programming

Machine Learning • Human Movement • Computer Graphics


"Natalie is combining her disparate interests at USC, and her unique perspective is leading her into nascent fields of inquiry. She is the engineer of today: bright, focused, and disrupting the concept of what engineers can and will do."


My Journey

Never in my wildest dreams did I think there could be any connection between the art of dance and the technical fields of computer science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. But my time at the University of Southern California has transformed my two childhood hobbies into my primary research interests. My daily discoveries at USC constantly keep me on my toes (literally!) and encourage me to use my talents to impact the lives of others. Take a look at how it all started!


Tiny Dancer

I started taking dance lessons when I was 3 years old. Sugared up on snow cones before class, I pranced around in little tutus and slapped my tap shoes around like there was no tomorrow. What started as a childhood hobby quickly turned into a passion as I entered my teenage years. My mom took the dozens of American Girl dolls out of our playroom and turned the space into a home dance studio complete with large mirrors and a hardwood floor so I could practice my dance technique after finishing my homework each night. I was hooked!


Academic Explorations

In addition to the joy I found in my dance classes growing up, I thrived in math and science classes that allowed me to solve problems in creative ways. Without even realizing it, I began combining the fields of dance and technology in various school projects. I taught my classmates about the physics of a pirouette. I created a dance film for an American History class project. I played around with an Arduino to make LED lights dance to the beat of catchy songs. I reveled in kinesiology and cryptology classes, where I watched math and science come to life in different forms of human movement and communication. 


Tying the Two Together 

At USC, I major in the Viterbi School of Engineering and Minor in the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. I pursue research projects both at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies Vision & Graphics Lab under Dr. Hao Li and at the USC Choreographic Institute under Dr. Patrick Corbin and Dawn Stoppiello. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to bridge the two schools together with my projects and connect with other scholars exploring the possibilities of dance media and software.  


"While some might see the fields of computer science, business, and dance as completely unrelated, even mutually exclusive, Monger can't imagine her education any other way."

- USC Viterbi School of Engineering, "Pirouettes and Programming"