Village gym to be transformed into practice space for dance groups

Julia Bianco, News Editor

The gym in the Village at 115th will soon be no more. The gym, located behind the Starbucks, will be stripped of its equipment and transformed into a practice space for campus dance groups.

Dance groups, who are not classified as athletic groups, have had issues finding spaces to practice in the past. With athletic groups getting priority for the spaces in the Veale Athletic Center, the Adelbert Gymnasium and the Horsburgh Gymnasium, dance groups have had trouble finding consistent places to practice.

David Aghassi, the president of Swing Club, spearheaded the effort to find a better practice space for all of the dance groups on campus. Along with Daisy Wu, president of Urban Elements, Aghassi created a petition for all of the dance groups to sign, which he then presented to Vice President of Student Affairs Lou Stark.

Aghassi’s petition presented a few options: reevaluating the use of Thwing Ballroom and other on-campus spaces for dance groups, or buying a removable wooden dance floor that could be installed in Carlton Commons, which has the space and openness for dance groups, but cannot be used properly because of the granite floor.

The initial meeting with Stark resulted in no solutions, but it did bring the issue to the attention of the Undergraduate Student Government. Jacob Ma, the vice president of student life, contacted the dance groups to work with them to find a solution.

The transformation of the Village gym into a dance space, which should be finished at some point during the spring semester, was the first in a series of solutions.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Aghassi. The Village gym will provide a consistent space for dance groups to use for practice, but it is too small to be used for lessons or performances.

Aghassi and the other dance groups also applied for one of USG’s new Student Life Improvement Grants to purchase a 42-by-42 foot removable wooden dance floor, which would be kept in Carlton Commons. Should they be awarded the grant, the maintenance and movement of the floor would be paid for by the Tinkham Veale University Center, in exchange for them being able to use the floor in the TVUC ballroom for weddings and other events.

Ma stressed that first use of the floor would go to student groups, with the TVUC only allowed to use it during non-academic periods, like holidays and breaks.

The university is also reevaluating the structural integrity of the Thwing Ballroom, which can only hold a certain number of people. They are looking into the pricing to restructure the ballroom and possibly make the space available to dance groups.

The construction of the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center, expected to be finished in 2015, will also provide more practice and performance spaces for dance groups.