Dear SFA, the Dance Program Needs Your Help

**The opinions in this piece do not reflect the official stance of Her Campus or Her Campus SFA** 

 

Dear SFA,

Usually when I mention to my fellow SFA students that I’m part of the SFA dance program, their first response is “we have a dance program?” Yes, although we haven’t yet made the necessary switch from the college of education to the college of fine arts, SFA does have a dance program that has been around since 1980. However, we need help.

Ask any dance major or minor and they’ll tell you the same thing: we need money. The entire program lays claim to a single room in the HPE. That’s right: we literally have ONE room for the entire program. This is also where we hold our shows every semester. If we want to use an actual stage we have to pay thousands of dollars to use Turner Auditorium (to be in there for dress rehearsals and all three show days it costs from $3,200-3,500)  and have last priority when negotiating times/days for our shows because we are not part of the college of fine arts (and because this is one of the few performance spaces on campus). I just want to repeat this for emphasis: we have to pay thousands of dollars just to have a stage to perform on. This is not okay.

Besides the fact that experience on an actual stage is extremely important for dancers, having our shows in the studio puts the dance program in an endless loop where no matter how much we advertise our shows we cannot make more money.  Because the studio can only house a small amount of people (the max is 120 people), we can only fill the house up so much and thus can only collect a set amount of money each semester, no matter how hard we try to advertise our shows.

                                                                                               Photo by Hannah Wallace for Her Campus at SFA

 

This year, the choreographers of the pieces in our bi-annual Danceworks concert had to pay for tickets to see the show because there isn’t enough room in the studio for anyone to attend without paying and we need all the money we can get.  During the Friday night show, there were families turned away because the show was sold out. That’s right- we had to turn away families that drove to Nacogdoches to see the performance because we don’t have room for them either.

We are also in need of new Marley for the floor in the studio and resources for specific classes (for example: access to cameras for our unit on ‘video dance’  for our choreography II class and etc).

Meanwhile, Sam Houston State University has 5+ dance studios and a stage just for their dance program. We don’t expect five studios, but we do expect that at least some of our tuition actually go to our program. We love SFA, but we just want to know that the school we’re going into debt to attend has our best interests at heart too.

Below is a link to a petition signed by current and former dance majors and minors, SFA students and alumni, as well as other concerned members of the SFA community, asking for funding and changes in the dance program. If you want this program to continue to grow, you should listen to what we have to say.

Sincerely,

Andrea Gallier, senior dance minor (on behalf of the current and former SFA dance majors and minors that have signed this petition: https://www.change.org/p/stephen-f-austin-state-university-give-the-dance-program-funding).

 

 

Statements from the SFA community and dancers:

“The SFA dance program is the reason why I am a dance teacher now. I am an alum of this amazing program, and as it continues to grow we continue to struggle with funding. Our dance space is very limited to the point that we can only have so many people for shows, classes, and even rehearsal spaces.  I would love to see SFA help ALL programs out and not just athletics.” - Taylor Shank, Dance Major/Alum, Graduated May 2017.

“I am all the way from Brownsville,Texas which is about 9 hours from SFA but knew when I first met all the faculty and other dance students that this was in an environment that I wanted to be a part of. We are a big family, and being able to expand and grow would be amazing just because there is so much talent that goes unrecognized in our classroom because space is so limited.” - Joleen Amber , Junior dance major.

From the ‘Reasons for Signing’ section of the petition:

“I was a member of the Repertory Dance Company here and a proud dance major. To being under the school of fine arts really would make a huge difference. I was only able to perform on the stage once. For a dance major of 4 years, that not right. The professors and students in this dance program are the most passionate dancers I have ever met. I hope that one day they are able to move under the school of arts and have access to all those things I so desperately wish I had the chance to experience.” – Nicole Bereznak.

“I'm signing because SFA as an entire university is slacking on the facilities for our students. As a dancer, I see first hand what the lack of facilities to accommodate this growing program holds us back from success for our future, and potential students wants to attend SFASU.” –Emily Roberson.

“I'm studying both music and dance, and due to having only one studio in the dance department I've had to use the music department's large practice rooms in order to practice my dance studies. The dance department definitely needs way more funding because one dance studio is not enough”- Samantha Aguirre.

“I was a musician for this program for over 5 years. I was a music major at the time and had the experience of performing on the stage at Turner auditorium multiple times and thinking back, it truly was unfair that the dancers in the dance program couldn't experience the same treatment just because my alma mater was behind the times.  Almost every other university I have ever visited has the dance program listed under fine arts and give those groups more funding and performance space. Sam Houston State University is one such school and their dance program is immensely popular for dance majors because of their shows and performances each year. Please SFA, don't let the bearcats beat us in the way that we treat our student's college experience.” -Daniel Gamboa, Nacogodoches, TX.

“We've been dancing on a floor thats 20+ years old and that's full of holes. Many dancers have slipped and injured themselves because of its age and wear.” – Jordan Moseley.

“I’m a fine arts major at SFA and I’m appalled by what this petition says. They deserve better from SFA.” –Megan Foster, Cedar Hill, TX.