JOSH GORDON FOR THE HOYA When Healey Family Student Center opens in 2014, struggles for student space will likely continue.
JOSH GORDON FOR THE HOYA
When Healey Family Student Center opens in 2014, struggles for student space will likely continue.

Construction of the Healey Family Student Center in New South has left some student groups in the lurch. While many have found temporary accommodations sufficient, dance groups have struggled to make do in spaces not designed for performance.

HFSC is scheduled to open in fall 2014, at which point space in New South’s Riverside Lounge will still be limited. Though some storage and rehearsal accommodations are temporary, other groups can expect the search for space to continue through next year.

The Georgetown University Dance Company was granted space at certain times of day in Yates Field House, forcing the group to rework the rehearsal schedule it has kept for years. The times available at Yates, mostly in the morning, conflict with more members’ academic and employment commitments.

“The consistent shifting in rehearsal and class times is hard for dancers who want to plan ahead for their lives,” said Nora Rosengarten (COL ’14), GUDC production director and Georgetown University Student Association undersecretary of the arts.

“For choreography, there are always people missing now,” GUDC President Cara Davis (COL ’14) added. “We are happy with the physical space, but the scheduling was definitely rough.”

Scheduling space for the group during business hours has affected the degree to which GUDC can collaborate with the surrounding community.

“We lost a couple of guest choreographers and guest teachers because they’re professional local artists that work 9-to-5. We haven’t been able to get some of the ones that we really love,” GUDC member Emma Murphy (SFS ’16) said.

Murphy also noted problems with the floor space in Walsh Black Box Theater, where GUDC holds some supplemental practices. Dancers must dance on a sprung floor, often referred to as a marley floor, to reduce the risk of injury.

“The Yates studio is a lot bigger, but we have the same amount of marley. Black Box is like dancing on concrete; it’s really poorly sprung marley,” Murphy said.

Groove Theory practices in both the Walsh Black Box Theater and the Center Grill space in Leavey Center, located between Makom and Cosi. The group traditionally practices after 10 p.m., rendering Yates, with its midnight closing time, an unfeasible option.

Katie Shannon (NHS ’15), a Groove Theory manager, expressed concerns over flooring.

“They are using the old New South dance studio floor, and it is chipped and very worn so people tend to get splinters on their hands and knees while stretching,” Shannon said.

However, Shannon said that the temporary lodging adequately meets the group’s needs.

“We just really miss the convenience of being able to find a spot to practice if we needed an additional rehearsal,” Shannon said.

The Georgetown Fencing Club also uses the Center Grill for its practice space. Fencing Captain Jonathan McClure (SFS ’15) described a space and booking crunch.

“Any problems are pretty much just a short-run thing but they are definitely noticeable at the moment,” McClure said.

The Center for Student Engagement has worked with groups on these problems throughout the semester, to varying degrees of success. Student groups gave input on location and scheduling when the CSE was working to figure out new accommodations last year in conjunction with the department of performing arts.

“I know there were a couple of groups assigned to interim spaces and the space wasn’t big enough for them, so we worked with the groups to try to accommodate their needs in other spaces,” CSE Director Erika Cohen Derr wrote in an email.

Many groups have transitioned without complaint into temporary locations that will remain in place until the construction ends next year, according to GUSA Director of Student Space Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14).

“I haven’t heard any concerns,” he said. “I’m sure there are a lot of kinks that are being worked out.”

The Center Grill is guaranteed to the CSE for only this year, as it is under the jurisdiction of Auxiliary Services and the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, not the university. It is not yet clear what will make up for the Center Grill space next year.

“I know there are other needs for space that they are foregoing because the space is in use by student groups this year,” Cohen Derr wrote.

According to a memorandum regarding space relocation that Cohen Derr wrote in April, groups that require equipment for practice were to use the LXR Multipurpose room.

Ron Lignelli, administrative director for the department of performing arts, reflected on the success of the temporary dance studios. He said that a lot of planning happened over the summer, especially for small but crucial factors needed to create temporary dance studios, such as buying mirrors and bars. His biggest concern is that temporary spaces might not be kept in the long term even though the addition of Healey Family Student Center will result in a net loss of practice space for student groups after construction is completed, too.

Additionally, the crunch on space for dance groups has affected theater groups that traditionally rehearse in the Black Box Theater.

“It’s been a challenge, but I wouldn’t say a problem,” Lignelli said. “It’s kind of a domino effect, in terms of rehearsals and auditions.”

Student groups that had been housed in New South that do not involve physical activity were mainly affected by a switch in storage space to the Center for Social Justice and the mezzanine level of Regents Hall, which is inaccessible by ramp or elevator. The Department of Planning and Facilities Management and CSE are looking to remedy this over the next two years and are offering a golf cart to aid student groups in transporting some materials.

“The CSJ has actually more space than we need. We are potentially giving space to other advisory boards that need it,” Advisory Board for Student Associations Chair Charlotte Cherry (SFS ’16) said.

The precise allocation of space and rehearsal time for the completed HFSC has not yet been determined, although need and history will be factored in.

“The scheduling will be done by the staff who run the Healey Family Student Center, and they have not been hired yet,” Cohen Derr wrote. “An advisory committee will be formed in October to provide input into the plan for the Healey Family Student Center, and this will be one of the aspects addressed by the committee. Students will comprise a big part of the committee and will have an important role in planning for these questions.”

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