The show must go on? Classical Ballet Society faces safety issues

A leak was found in the ceiling of the room in which the Classical Ballet Society meets. Photo illustration by Grace Everett

By Danika Young | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

Since its creation, the Classical Ballet Society at Baylor has been fighting to provide a safe dance space for its members.

Frisco master’s candidate and Classical Ballet Society president Kat Kiesling said the four years they have been an official organization, the university has never addressed or assisted their concerns. The club meets Mondays and Wednesdays in the Leossin Room in the McLane Student Life Center. According to Keisling, it is not fit to house the club, which is expanding every day.

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

Keisling said their current room is not set up like a dance room, which can present several safety concerns, especially for dancers on pointe.

“There is not a sprung wooden floor, so that’s not really safe or comfortable on pointe shoes,” Keisling said. “We don’t have a bar, so the girls have to hold onto the wall. It’s slippery, nor is it consistently waxed or even swept consistently. There are even hairballs that will cause us to slip sometimes.”

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

“I see a couple of reasons why our current room is problematic,” Blackwood said. “First of all, because it is not a normal floor, which helps absorb some shocks that help prevent injury, that alone increases the risk of injury.”

Blackwood also explained the significance of having the appropriate dance floor for ballet dancers.

“The back of pointe shoes, except for the thin part, is basically satin, which is a slippery material,” Blackwood said. “In a room where we can’t put rosins on, it’s very hard to be able to dance safely where no one falls. Also, the 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 has attempted to work with the university to solve this problem; however, she has not been successful thus far.

“We have reached out to each of the individual buildings that house those rooms and dance studios,” Keisling said. “We have reached out to the departments that run those buildings. We have also reached out to Student Activities to see if they could help us get any traction with them. And every single one of the venues is either closed on the weekdays or they won’t allow us in their practice spaces at all, even though we are a chartered organization.”

Due to the freeze, the Classical Ballet Society has had to move out of its rehearsal space in the SLC. At Wednesday’s rehearsal, Keisling said they found a large leak in the ceiling that was caused by the freeze.

“We had a rehearsal on Wednesday, and when we got there, there was water leaking through the ceiling, water on the floor and trash cans in the middle of the space,” Keisling said. “We didn’t receive any warning — only that we would not be able to use the room for the rest of the month.”

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

“I wasn’t surprised at all to find that huge leak in the ceiling, and we are just kind of expected to work around those things rather than them offering to help us in any way,” Keisling said. “After we got kicked out of our rehearsal space for the month, we are having to find a space our own.”

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

“There’s a somewhat unrealistic expectation for us to accommodate all of the 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.”