Baylor’s ballet club promotes inclusivity

Baylor's Classical Ballet Society strives to provide an inclusive environment for all interested in learning the art. Avery Owens | Reporter

By Avery Owens | Reporter

The Classical Ballet Society (CBS) dance club at Baylor has made it their goal to promote inclusivity and to never turn anyone away.

The group was founded in 2019 by alumna Kat Kiesling and Houston senior Meagan McGourty. The club has created a space for dancers of all skill levels to join together and find community.

Kiesling serves as the club’s president and McGourty serves as the artistic director. They met in a ballet class at Baylor.

“Before we even had the idea to really come up with a group, we were just getting together and dancing sometimes after class. Then more and more people started to join us” said McGourty. “It really just started as two friends dancing together outside of class and having fun.”

In the past, the club has performed the Nutcracker and pieces from Swan Lake. Due to COVID-19, the members are currently practicing on their own and leaning on each other for community during this season.

“A lot of my responsibilities right now fall on checking in on the girls this semester, making sure they’re each taking time to mentally be in right place, practice when they can, do what’s healthy for them and provide that community outlet in a safe way,” said Kiesling.

From seasoned dancers to admirers of the art, Kiesling said the club encourages anyone and everyone to join their society.

“We have a group of people of varying ballet backgrounds,” said McGourty. “Some, like myself, were professionals at one point, and some are just beginning and starting their journey in ballet.”

Frisco junior Elizabeth Anderson has been dancing with CBS from the beginning. Anderson, a dancer since the age of five, said she uses the club as her creative outlet.

“Ultimately, what we want to do is provide a space for people who love dance or maybe want to learn dance or just have an appreciation for it as an art form,” Anderson said. “It gives them a place to feel safe and they can feel creative and have their thoughts and ideas heard.”

The club’s Instagram bio describes the community as “inclusive, supportive, body-positive.”

“We’re all really accepting and we really want people from all walks of life — different body sizes, whether they have able-bodies or disabilities — to be able to participate,” said McGourty.

Kiesling echoes this mission.

“We have dancers from all different backgrounds and we’ve never turned anyone away,” said Kiesling. “No matter your experience, no matter your body shape, or background or where you feel like you are on your physical journey, we welcome people to join us. It’s really an outlet to be physically active and mentally active together in a safe space.”