Only Ryerson Theatre School students have access to the building’s studios. PHOTO: MARISSA DEDERER

Students starved for dance studio space

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Ryerson may cater to its performance dance students with several professional studios, but there’s far less on the menu for dancers outside of the program. Arts & Life Editor Allyssia Alleyne reports

Ryerson may offer several usable studios for dance students, but those in other programs aren’t so lucky.

Alicia Wright, a third-year business management student, became aware of Ryerson’s death of dance space last October when she was rehearsing for the annual multicultural show with other members of the United Black Students at Ryerson.

Instead of practicing in a proper dance studio with sprung floors and mirrors, they made do with the spaces available.

“We used any available space that had enough room and an outlet,” she said. This often meant practicing on the cement floors of the second-floor lounge of the Student Campus Centre, or the hallway near the main gynmasium.

There are three studios located in the Ryerson Theatre School (RTS), but only theatre school students have access to them. There are also three multi-purpose studios available for rent at the Ryerson Athletic Centre, but students must pay the RAC membership fee — $68.14 a year — in order to rent them.

“It really sucks for Ryerson,” said Wright.

According to Anthony Seymour, recreation manager at the RAC, this policy is in place because the space is mainly intended for members.

“If they’re RAC members we do have studios available that students can sign out for personal use,” he said. “They can just reserve studio [space] for up to two hours a day.”

This lack of space has not gone unnoticed. At last semester’s annual general meeting, the Ryerson Student Union’s (RSU) vice-president equity Rodney Diverlus put forth a motion to lobby the university for more usable dance space.

“The RSU received a mandate from members at a general meeting and worked with our campus groups to gain access to free, bookable studio space on campus,” said Alyssa Williams, vice-president student life.

She says that student groups have been removed from different locations by security, and that some spaces being used are considered “unfit and unsafe for dancing,” like corridors and rooms without temperature control.

According to Williams, fulfilling this mandate is an immediate priority because studio space is needed to build a sense of community on campus.

“These groups need to be able to celebrate and showcase their talents, and many of our groups participate in inter-university competitions to represent and boost Ryerson’s reputation.”

But not everyone thinks that more accessible dance space is necessary. Fourth-year performance dance student Veronica Madrabajakis thinks students should appreciate the space that is available.

`“We’re very lucky to have all the spaces that we do have,” she said. “It would be great if we had an extremely large building with all sorts of studio space, but unfortunately we don’t.”

—With files from Brian Capitao

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