Yesterday, I was looking through the course catalog to pick out classes for next semester. I apprehensively turned to the dance section, diffidently hoping to discover a simple jazz or ballet class, but my fears were confirmed. I could take yoga or T’ai Chi, but there was no ballet class in sight.
I have been dancing since I was three years old. It is my only true passion in life, as of now, and I almost didn’t come to UR because of the lack of opportunities for me to dance.
Students with musical talents and interests have so many opportunities to take classes and to continue their learning with Eastman so conveniently close by. They are provided with free music or voice lessons and can take actual Eastman classes. Students can audition for orchestras, wind symphonies and other ensembles and have the chance to be challenged and instructed by actual music teachers. Also, artists have a plethora of different types of classes available to them, an Art/Music Library in which to present their work and have resources made available to them, and the Hartnett Art Gallery (which receives much funding) in which to enjoy their passion through seeing the works of professional artists.
Dance, a lot of the time, gets swept under the rug and doesn’t get paid much attention by people who don’t deem it as important as music, studio arts or even theater. Spurrier Hall houses the one “dance studio” on campus – if you could call it that. The building itself is old and the studio is hardly adequate – there are no mirrors, ballet bars or sprung floors.
The options for classes through the dance department are extremely limited; there is not one traditional technique class that exists at UR – except for tap classes that are apparently offered occasionally – in any of the traditional styles of dance: jazz, modern, ballet or hip-hop. Last semester, I took the West African Dance class and it was a great workout and a fun experience, but there’s still something huge missing for me and so many other dancers on this campus.
There are several dance clubs on campus that allow students like me to keep dancing throughout college, to have that outlet and method of expression available. I love being involved in the Ballet Performance Group and I’ve thrown myself into it, choreographing a dance and participating in three other student-choreographed pieces this semester alone. Yet, for me and many other students, while it is fun to dance in these clubs, we are not receiving advice and technique from experienced teachers.
Dance is a skill, a very technically-difficult art form to partake in, and there is no way for us at UR to continue to hone and improve that skill that many of us have been working on since the age of three.
UR provides so many opportunities for musicians and artists, academically and financially. There’s no reason why dancers should be ignored.
Friedlander is a member of the class of 2010.