Classical ballet

The show must continue? Classical ballet company faces security concerns

A leak was discovered in the ceiling of the hall where the Classical Ballet Society meets. Photo illustration by Grace Everett

By Danika Young | Journalist / Anchor LTVN

Since its inception, the Baylor Classical Ballet Society has fought to provide a safe dance space for its members.

Kat Kiesling, Frisco master’s candidate and president of the Classical Ballet Society, said that in the four years it was an official organization, the university had never responded or addressed their concerns. The club meets Mondays and Wednesdays in the Leossin Room of the McLane Student Life Center. According to Keisling, it is not suitable to house the club, which is growing every day.

« The Leossin room [in the SLC] is pretty much the only option we were able to secure,” Kiesling said. “Even then, it’s not big enough, it’s not safe, and there’s not what we need to have a ballet club.”

Keisling said their current venue is not set up as a dance hall, which can present several safety issues, especially for dancers on pointe.

“There’s no suspended wooden floor, so it’s not really safe or comfortable on pointe,” Keisling said. “We don’t have a bar, so the girls have to stand against the wall. It’s slippery, neither systematically waxed nor even systematically swept. There are even hairballs that sometimes make us slip.

Weymouth, Mass. sophomore and pointe dancer Julia Blackwood explained her struggles after falling hard to the floor in Leossin Hall during Wednesday’s rehearsal.

“I see a few reasons why our current room is problematic,” Blackwood said. “Firstly, because it’s not normal flooring, which helps absorb some shock which helps prevent injury, that alone increases the risk of injury.”

Blackwood also explained the importance of having the proper dance floor for ballet dancers.

“The back of the pointe shoes, except for the thin part, is mostly satin, which is a slippery material,” Blackwood said. “In a room where you can’t put rosin, it’s very difficult to be able to dance safely where no one falls. Also, non-dance floors are harder than dance floors, so when you go on pointe, it hurts so much more. It’s very painful.

As president, Keisling said she tried to work with the university to resolve this issue; however, she has not been successful so far.

“We contacted each of the individual buildings that house these dance halls and studios,” Keisling said. “We have contacted the services that manage these buildings. We also contacted student activities to see if they could help us get some traction with them. And each of the sites are either closed on weekdays or they don’t allow us access to their training spaces at all, even though we are a chartered organization.

Due to the freeze, the Classical Ballet Society had to vacate its rehearsal space at SLC. During Wednesday’s rehearsal, Keisling said he found a large leak in the ceiling caused by freezing.

“We had a rehearsal on Wednesday, and when we arrived there was water dripping through the ceiling, water on the floor, and garbage cans in the middle of the space,” Keisling said. “We received no warning – only that we couldn’t use the room for the rest of the month.”

Keisling said she was looking for a room for her dancers to practice for the rest of this month and was never suggested an alternative rehearsal space.

“I wasn’t at all surprised to find this huge leak in the ceiling, and we’re expected to work around these things rather than them offering to help us in any way,” said Keisling. “After being kicked out of our rehearsal space for the month, we need to find our own space.”

Keisling said that because they are a smaller organization than most, being housed is more of a stretch for the Classical Ballet Society.

“There’s a somewhat unrealistic expectation for us to address all issues instead of the university working with us to find a place to practice and be safe,” Keisling said. “Being a small organization is definitely a struggle because you don’t have the pull on campus and people don’t really pay attention to you.”