Ever since they were abruptly locked out of the Auxillary Gymnasium last spring, members of Knox’s Terpsichore Dance Collective have been fighting to secure adequate space for themselves and other clubs.
“The Aux Gym was crumbling,” said senior Claire Cody, President of Terp. “Everyone who was involved in dance anything has been saying this for years. The ceiling beams were falling on us during class and during rehearsal water would just be pouring in.”
It became possible for Academic Dance to move into CFA when Knox’s art program transferred to the new Whitcomb Art Center.
“It was tough because it was basically two big art studios that were emptied, and of course theatre wanted that space, music wanted more practice rooms … but for dance, literally our building was falling apart around us. We need a space that’s safe to dance in,” Cody said. “The Academic Dance program was really excited to have a place that would be just for dance classes and for rehearsals that are for the Academic Dance program.”
However, the clubs who had also been utilizing the Aux space were left behind in the process, not being directly informed of the building’s closing in advance. Terp member Elise Goitia, a senior, described the experience as like being left without a home.
“We just tried to open the doors one day and they just wouldn’t open … You can imagine Terp’s surprise, especially as one of the biggest clubs that uses that space,” she said.
The event left the club scrambling to figure out alternative options for practice space. “People really had to be creative …Terp completely flooded the athletic facilities, the Mirror Room especially, and I think that put a huge strain on everybody else who needed to use it which was really unfortunate,” Goitia said.
The group was eventually informed they would be given space in the basement of CFA, an arrangement members said they appreciated, but which hasn’t been ideal. Unlike the reliably accessible Aux, the club found themselves constantly locked out of the space by Campus Safety. The process of getting the space to meet their needs has also been slow.
“Both of the art studios had concrete floors, which is really bad for dancing. You can get injured really easily … So the first thing that anyone needed to be able to dance in there was some kind of flooring that would be safe to dance on,” said Cody.
Conversations with the Campus Life Office eventually led to the installation of a sprung wood floor as well as a sound system. One aspect critical to dance still missing from the space, however, is mirrors.
“You really wouldn’t think mirrors are very necessary to any group of people, but to dance they’re as necessary as having a stereo,” said Goitia. “It’s one thing that we didn’t get notice that we were being kicked out of our space. It’s another thing that we’re still struggling to get something that’s integrally necessary.”
With administration not being expected to install them, Terp members are now working on creating a Knoxstarter with the intention of raising the money needed for the mirrors, with a longer term goal of improving the CFA basement space in general. They see it as an initiative that could benefit the whole Knox community, not just the dance teams, noting the space is meant to be usable by all students.
Cody described her vision for the space as including mirrors, movable bars, and a lounge area for clubs to have meetings. She also noted it would be helpful to have storage space for equipment, something clubs like Fencing and Color Works have been lacking.
Despite their struggles, Goitia did feel they had positive things to draw from the experience.
“This has been a really shocking change that has forced students to really come together and start discussing ways that we can help ourselves instead of just relying on the schools to help us,” Goitia said. “We wouldn’t have been able to still produce anything at all if we didn’t have such persistent [and] strong determined team members.”