New dance director cancels Sarabande’s Open Dance Class
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
Director of Dance Renata Celichowska has discontinued the Sarabande Open Dance Class, which the student−run dance group hosted almost every Sunday night in the Jackson Dance Lab last year.
The open dance classes served as opportunities for any Tufts student to take drop−in classes taught by a member of Sarabande, a dance ensemble that specializes in modern dance.
Celichowska believes that because the series of dance classes lacked a curriculum, the informal classes did not align with Tufts’ or Sarabande’s educational purposes.
“The mission of the group is to choreograph, learn and practice repertoire,” Celichowska said. “When there are ongoing classes, it’s something that we have to look at doing in a way that is mission−driven and holistic to the aims of the university.”
In a meeting with Sarabande members on Sunday, Celichowska also voiced legal concerns about the Open Dance Class, such as who would be at fault if a student got injured, Sarabande President Kathryn Eckert said
Cindy Ko (LA ’12), who was a member of Sarabande, created the concept last year for her Communications and Media Studies Senior Project as a means to further engage the community in dance, Eckert, a senior, said.
“Sarabande felt that we were missing a certain population of dancers who weren’t in Sarabande but wanted to take casual classes,” Eckert said. “I didn’t really understand why the classes were being cancelled. Overall, we were kind of confused. It was an abrupt answer, and there wasn’t reasoning behind it at first.”
After the group’s meeting with Celichowska, Eckert said she better understands the concerns about the Open Dance Class but hopes to work with the Dance Department to restart the classes soon. Eckert said she will consult the Tufts Community Union Senate and the Sarabande constitution for support in bringing back the series.
“We’re just sad that something we thought was only productive for the community was being stopped,” Eckert said. “I think we got off on the wrong foot, starting the year confused as to why things were happening. We’re hoping to move forward with the Dance Department.”
Other Tufts dance groups, such as Spirit of Color (SoC), have not been affected by the discontinuation of Sarabande’s open classes, according to Director of SoC Gabrielle Thomas, a senior. SoC plans to hold open classes in Jackson this semester.
Celichowska assumed her position as director of dance last month.
Although Celichowska said she is not in favor of the Open Dance Class idea, she said she hopes to offer curricular dance classes at times during the day that are convenient for students, such as in the evenings.
“Anyone who is dancing is something we really want to support,” Celichowska said. “I’d love to see if we can offer classes within the program that [don’t] infringe upon their course of studies academically.”
Celichowska said that based on the dance programming at other liberal arts universities, she hopes to invite guest artists and choreographers from the Boston community to host occasional classes. Celichowska said this model more closely resembles other schools’ arts curriculum than the Open Dance Class format.
“If there are classes going on that are somehow on Tufts’ campus that aren’t really either through the gym or through a program of study, then it’s not in keeping with Tufts’ mission,” Celichowska said. “If the students are taking a class in our studios, it’s not the focus of what I understand the groups are supposed to be doing.”
Celichowska said that she would like to offer a new advanced ballet class next semester, filling the void for classes tailored to technically trained dancers — like many Sarabande members — that currently exists in the department.
“All of Sarabande thought that was amazing,” junior Yessenia Rivas, a member of Sarabande, said. “If Tufts is able to provide us with those classes, it’s so much help to Sarabande and the Tufts dance community.”
Although the ban on Open Classes came as a surprise to the group, Rivas said Celichowska has been welcoming all students who want to participate in dance on campus.
“There’s a group of advanced dancers who really want to keep dance as integral to their experience here at college, and I find that very exciting,” Celichowska said. “I really think some of the most creative work in dance is coming from not just the conservatory dancing machines, but from people who are bringing outside information into dance. The engineers are the ones who come up with the most amazing ideas and body puzzles.”