It is sad to me that the dance groups have no designated space to use and to call their own since the renovations of the dance studio. The renovation was a waste of money. In fact, it was a waste of my money. I cannot believe that the funding that went into the studio had nothing to do with the tuition we as students pay.
The director of the dance program, Judith Hook, seems to think that now that the floor is finally up to dancing standards, the dance groups on campus do not deserve to use it, claiming that dancers will ruin the new floor with their shoes. I can understand that tap shoes may do this, but not soft ballet or jazz shoes.
It is classified as an ?academic space? only to be used for classes and performances. Aren?t academic spaces used all the time by student groups on campus? When the new Goergen Athletic Center opened, did we tell anyone that they couldn?t use it for fear of ruining the floor? Did we tell the basketball team that it was off limits especially to those wearing athletic shoes?
As a senior, I look back in amazement at how the dance department and the dance community has changed on campus. My first semester at UR consisted of all the usual requirements but also included the advanced ballet class. I joined the Ballet Performance Group, which is a dance group that focuses on classical ballet, and I made some of my best friends. Over the course of my years here the dance department and its relations with the student dance groups has gone from nominal to nonexistent.
At the end of 1998 the dance department did not renew its contract with our ballet teacher. Instead the dance department proceeded to have a modern trained dancer teach ballet. I tried this class and after a few weeks dropped it because it was not a ballet class, but a mix of modern and basic ballet steps incorporated with different breathing techniques.
In response to this inadequate class, I and others now go off campus to and pay out of our own pocket to receive ballet instruction. Why should I have to do this when our university has a dance department that I already pay to use?
The past two years the dance department has not offered any ballet classes ? which is a disservice to any dancer. Modern dance, jazz and even tap require solid training in ballet basics and technique to be performance quality. Even though the dance program has become a modern dance program with tap and swing, it continues to neglect ballet.
And to top it off, after all the difficulties our dance group has had in acquiring any ballet classes, the newly renovated Spurrier Dance Studio is off limits to the Ballet Performance Group and all other dance groups on campus. After the ripping down of the ballet barres and mirrors in the old dance studio, we now are forced to try to rehearse in the Spurrier Gym since it has ballet essentials ? a barre and mirrors.
We also use the Multi-Purpose Room in the gym, which we all know is a beautiful facility. But we have to fight for space and our sanity while we try to run rehearsals above the chanting of the cheerleading squad or other sports teams. I ask you ? does ballet, with its leotards, tights and pointe shoes, belong in the gym? No!
UR stresses a liberal arts education, and it is shameful that student dance groups are forbidden from training. The dance department has taken away all forms of student choreography on campus by taking away the only appropriate space to dance.
It has also neglected the need for the most fundamental dance technique ? ballet ? and provides no support for dance groups on campus. I tried several times to contact Hook and was completely ignored. The program does not listen to student concerns or accommodate them in any way. In fact, its only concerns reflect the motivation of Hook, who unfortunately has her hands on our tuition money and the keys to the dance studio.
I believe its time for the administration to step in and intervene before the dance department drives away all of its students and forces its closure.
Toufexis is a senior and president of the Ballet Performance Group.