April 15, 2022 | OPINION | By Katey Grealish | Photo by Daniel de Koning
Has anyone else wondered why Dance Workshop took place in the middle of the week this semester? I have. Considering we are one of Colorado College’s largest student organizations, you think we’d get better than mid-week billing (not to mention the fact that CC loves to plaster our pictures all over its homepage and newsletters). As a dancer and choreographer, I happen to know a few details many people may not, and I would love to share my take on the way Dance Workshop has been treated by overseeing bodies at CC this past year.
At the beginning of the semester, Dance Workshop held a vote among members for the dates of show week. Block 7 Week 3 won out. I understood performances would take place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night as usual. The co-chairs of Dance Workshop presented Campus Activities with this week, and we were on track for shows set during the third weekend of Block 7.
A snag arose when the co-chairs noticed a few religious holidays happen this weekend and asked Campus Activities what to do. The response was a ban from performing that weekend because of the holidays, forcing us to scramble for show dates. We couldn’t do anything Block 8 because too many dancers were studying abroad, and the AV team was unavailable. We couldn’t do the second week of Block 7 either because the performance space was booked. It proved there was no avoiding a mid-week show.
It was incredibly disheartening receiving this news. One of the things I love about Dance Workshop is how much of the student body turns out for it, but I worried attendance would sink due to the shows not being on the weekend. I was also sad that our time spent practicing on the stage was dramatically cut down because the mid-week show meant we could only have one tech day instead of two. I felt like we weren’t being heard or understood.
I am confused by Campus Activities giving Dance Workshop an initial go-ahead to perform this weekend and only suspending that permission after we asked what to do about the religious conflicts. Campus Activities knew these holidays were taking place this weekend when giving their first OK. By reversing their decision, they disincentivize Dance Workshop and other student groups from asking for help and communicating clearly.
This is not the first time Dance Workshop has had to sacrifice its members’ wishes to appease Campus Activities. Understandably, we were required to use more dressing rooms than normal for our show last semester, so people could distance and avoid spreading COVID. What I did not understand was requiring some dancers to use the South Hall classroom as a dressing room, forcing them to walk between South and Armstrong in December at night.
By exposing them to below-freezing temperatures, Campus Activities created a health risk for these dancers by cooling off their muscles, which must stay warm to safely dance. I still do not understand why we were not allowed to use one of the many classrooms or hallway spaces in Armstrong instead.
Before closing, I want to highlight one more interaction I had with a Campus Activities representative that I think says a lot about how they view Dance Workshop and its members. When I arrived at Armstrong before one of our shows last semester, the dressing rooms were still locked. I sought out someone from Campus Activities to unlock them. As we walked to the rooms, the representative remarked that she thought one room smelled like smoke the night before, insinuating a member of Dance Workshop was responsible.
The woman told me to tell everyone in Dance Workshop not to smoke that show because she was new in her position and her boss was observing her that night. She didn’t want to make a bad impression on her supervisor. She certainly wasn’t concerned with my impression of her, for I was offended by her hasty assumption that Dance Workshop members were behaving inappropriately. I also found it embarrassing that she asked me, a random dancer, to take responsibility for the situation instead of doing it herself.
There is still more evidence to back up my opinion, but I can’t fit it all in one article. CC is happy to use Dance Workshop for publicity, but some of the governing bodies for campus life fail to properly care for the dancers who provide all that good press.
I would like to make it clear that I don’t think anyone who works with Dance Workshop intends to disadvantage us or cramp our style. I want to think there is more to the story that I am unaware of, that there are valid reasons behind this poor treatment. Perhaps it is simply the product of broader structural issues and bureaucratic failure. However, governing organizations like Campus Activities are doing a poor job of explaining their side, and Dance Workshop’s dancers, choreographers, crew members, and co-chairs deserve an explanation.