UCLA dance groups stay in rhythm despite delay in creation of new practice room

Construction for a new space for dance groups has been delayed. Dance groups will have to continue dancing in parking garages until construction is completed. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Dance groups will have to practice in outdoor parking garages at least until spring quarter because of delays in the construction of a new multipurpose room.

Students advocated for the creation of a 1,600-square-foot room in the John Wooden Center last year to give student dance groups an indoor rehearsal space. The room, which will replace racquetball courts 8 and 9, was slated to be completed by January 2019, said Rudy Figueroa, senior associate director of facility operations at UCLA Recreation. Construction began in the summer and has since been delayed to late spring 2019 due to safety regulations and the discovery of a load-bearing wall, which carries the load of the floors and roof above as well as its own weight.

UCLA Recreation also has to add doors and emergency strobes to satisfy safety regulations, which will further the delay, according to a statement from UCLA Recreation.

Many student dance groups currently practice outside in parking lots and garages, as indoor practice space is limited. Dance groups like Samahang Modern and Foundations Choreography spend up to ten hours per week practicing outside, said Samahang Modern and Foundations Choreography leadership.

Student dancers had mixed reactions to the delay.

Members of Samahang Modern are disappointed about the delay, but ultimately thankful for the progress, said Krista Antonio, a third-year physiological sciences student and the artistic director of the group.

“At this point, we can only be grateful that this is a step further in terms of advocating for something that can benefit us as dancers, as a team and as a community,” Antonio said.

Dancers from Foundations Choreography feel a similar mix of disappointment and excitement, said Liana Liang, one of the group’s co-executives.

“We’re happy that it’s still in the works and not just an abandoned project,” said Liang, who is a fourth-year international development studies student. “But, definitely, if we had an extra room this year, it would have made a lot of things easier.”

Dancing in parking lots has also negatively impacted dancers’ health, said Miya Sheker, a fourth-year anthropology student and another co-executive of Foundations.

“The ventilation (in the parking lots) is not great, so a lot of people are getting sick, and obviously this is not good for dancers who are also full-time students,” Sheker added.

The new multipurpose room is expected to accommodate around 20 students, Figueroa said. Although the room likely will not be large enough to accommodate all of Samahang Modern’s 47 members at once, Antonio said she is optimistic about the room’s benefits.

“Even just a space for us to hold a portion of our team would be beneficial,” Antonio said. “The additional space will give us the benefit of working on multiple projects at once, as opposed to waiting until one group is done.”

Although Sheker said she thinks the new space is a step in the right direction, she added she thinks there is still a lot of progress to be made.

“I think UCLA still doesn’t understand how large the dance community is, and how many people would benefit from having more space,” she said.

Since the room will not be able to accommodate all members of larger dance teams at once, there is still a demand for spaces where all-team practices can occur, she added.

Despite delaying the project, UCLA Recreation has been working to ensure the construction meets all the proper requirements, said Julia Ho-Gonzalez, Undergraduate Students Association Council facilities commissioner and fourth-year political science student.

“(The new multipurpose room) is a pretty significant accomplishment for the dance community and finally shows that we do have a voice,” Antonio said. “It’s definitely been a long process, but I think the fact that we’re finally seeing the reality of it is reassuring.”

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2018/11/30/ucla-dance-groups-stay-in-rhythm-despite-delay-in-creation-of-new-practice-room/
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