I’ve been involved in dance on campus since my freshman year and I’ve seen its popularity soar. Dance has always been important in my life and, now, other dancers like me have been flocking to UR – but there is not enough space here for everyone to be able to dance.
Ballet Performance Group, the dance group I am a member of, doubled in size in the past year. The group had nearly 50 members at the start of my freshman year in 2006 and, after this past winter break, the total was brought up to over 100 members.
There is clearly such a huge interest on this campus for dance. I almost didn’t come to UR because of the lack of dance opportunities on campus, but, this year, when the freshmen showed up, their evident interest, talent and passion for dance demanded attention and action.
After talking to the presidents of two other popular dance groups on campus, I discovered that their groups had also doubled in membership in the past year. Radiance Dance Theatre went from 13 members two years ago to over 30 now. D’Motions Dance Group jumped from 25 to 50 currently active members this year. So that means that among just three groups, nearly 200 students are participating in dance, and that doesn’t even include the countless other dance groups on campus.
The facilities for dance are very limited now. There is a whole dance studio in Spurrier Hall, but its access is very limited to dance clubs. Furthermore, dance shoes are prohibited in the space (that dance shoes aren’t allowed in a dance studio is ridiculous in itself). There was an Aerobics Studio in Goergen Athletic Center, but it was turned into an office last semester (and it is too small to fit a piece with 30 dancers).
The May Room in Wilson Commons is the only space where tap dancers are allowed to practice. The Multi Activity Center in Goergen is perfect for dancers, but our times are being cut.
Last semester, BPG was given limited time for rehearsal. We had 14 student-choreographed pieces, but we had to sacrifice time and safety in order to provide that many dances for our members. With the amount of time in the gym we were given, we either could have one dance rehearse each night or allow two dances to rehearse for only 45 minutes each.
However, with only eight rehearsals before our semester show, every minute of those 45 minutes counts and therefore warming up becomes sacrificed. Without warming up, it becomes easy and even expected for dancers to pull muscles, fall and break bones or strain tendons. However, there isn’t enough time with the spaces we are given to stretch and prepare for a rehearsal, so we dance without it.
I understand that it’s a small campus and that there are so many other groups who deserve to have space for their own rehearsals and practices as well, but the school needs to listen and notice when three groups double in size after simply one year. Cutting the amount of time we are allotted for rehearsal when we double in number is absurd. Dancers have made a place for themselves and their talents at UR, and the school needs to provide the space for this passion.
Friedlander is a member of the class of 2010.