The growing UCLA dance community can look forward to more practice space on campus, UCLA administrators said at a town hall meeting Tuesday.
More than 100 attendees from UCLA dance teams and the undergraduate student government’s Facilities Commission met with administrators about issues regarding dance practice spaces. A UCLA administrator said the Hedrick Movement Studio is set for renovation in 2018 to make the space more suitable for dancers, and UCLA will conduct a survey to locate other spaces to accommodate dance teams and cultural groups.
Most UCLA dance groups practice in various campus parking lots because few practice spaces exist in campus buildings. The 2016 Social Justice Referendum made more John Wooden Center spaces available for dancers at night, but dancers said they continue to practice in the parking lots because they think Wooden still does not have enough rehearsal space.
Representatives from multiple dance groups, including ICARUS Contemporary Dance Company, Foundations Choreography and UCLA Taara said at the town hall the lack of space has impacted their ability to grow as dancers.
Leo Albea, a fourth-year sociology student who is a Samahang Modern advisor and part of the John Wooden Center Board of Governors, said he thinks the spaces should be a priority for UCLA because dance groups are an integral part of many UCLA events.
Hayley Thompson, a dancer with ICARUS and a fourth-year psychology student, said many of the team’s dancers have sustained injuries from dancing in the lots.
“We’ve been stuck here for years,” Thompson said. “Someone in our team broke their thumb, and I’ve been in physical therapy because of the parking lots.”
Thompson also said the dance community wants administrators to understand that dance teams play a significant role in representing UCLA because they frequently win competitions.
“We’re part of the No. 1 public university in the nation, but we dance in the parking lots,” she said.
Devika Chandramohan, a third-year psychobiology student and dancer with UCLA Taara, said the rehearsal spaces Wooden provides are still impractical for dancing.
“One of the biggest difficulties we face is that we practice in the racquetball courts (in Wooden),” she said. “There isn’t enough space – our type of dance involves full body movements, and we can’t really perform those with so many dancers in one small room.”
A public commentator from HOOLIGAN Theater Company said the lack of space affects drama groups as well as dance teams. The commentator said the lack of studio space forces her to rehearse on the grassy hills of Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, which is not practical for rehearsing dance movements because of its uneven surface.
Albea said the dance community proposed opening academic spaces in Kaufman Hall and Macgowan Hall to non-dance and non-theater students. He added he thinks the UCLA community should also invest in portable mirrors, which they can use in spaces like racquetball rooms and other ASCULA spaces to make them more suited for dance rehearsals.
Rudy Figueroa, a UCLA Recreation associate director, said UCLA recognizes the necessity of looking for more spaces to accommodate the growing dance community.