A YES vote would make us want to dance

Mia Terminella

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The fall dance concert was held in the multipurpose McCallum Arts Center, which was opened in 2011 and built with $9.4 million approved by a 2008 bond vote. Photos by Annabel and Dave Winter. 

Austinites should pass bond, bring modern dance studio to McCallum

The McCallum Youth Dance Academy Parent Guild sat down on Saturday Oct.  21 in order to discuss the 2017 AISD Bond.

Blair Kinsey, Connie Pearce, and Astra Elliott perform their contemporary dance for the crowd at the fall dance concert. “This was a really fun piece to perform on stage.” Pearce said. “I loved the costumes and all the personality that this dance had.” Photo by Molly Odland.

“The McCallum Dance Guild is a group of parents who plan events, ceremonies and fundraisers for the Dance Academy,” guild treasurer Cheryl Carson said. “The group has been feverishly working to spread the word about the bond.”

The bond would entail a brand new and fully updated dance facility for the Academy, including dressing rooms, bathrooms, water facilities and proper lighting. The parents and students of the dance strand attended several school district board meetings last April to introduce their ideas for the facility to the board.

The parents’ and students’ hard work paid off; news about the McCallum facility being on the bond was announced this summer on June 26.

While grateful for the space they have, the Academy needs a safer, more modern studio. The dancers are currently in the black box, a space that was originally designed for the theatre strand.

“I think a new studio will make the whole dance academy experience more efficient,” junior dance major Hannah Hufford said.

While an improvement over previous dance studios at McCallum, the black box theatre is too small and lacks a water fountain, a changing space, easy access to ice and adjustable HVAC. Photo by Mia Terminella.

While the black box was an improvement over the field house, the program’s former primary studio space, it stills lacks many necessities to be a safe dance space. Just last September, the academy majors came together to paint the previous black walls of the building white, trying to fix the lighting problem. While the lighting in the building improved, it still is not ideal for a dance space.

The problem of having too many dancers and not enough space is also a prominent issue for both the dancers in and outside the academy. The idea of having more than one dance room would provide an easy solution to the current problem.

“In some dance classes we often have to have half the class in the field house and the other half in the dance room,” Hufford said. “If the new studio had two different rooms, then we can have two dance classes happening at different times.”

While those seem to be some of the major problems the strand currently faces other more simple problems such as not having a water fountain, a changing space, easy access to ice or control over the air/heat.  All of these basic necessities tests the dancers’ safety and their passion.

Academy directors Natalie Uehara and Rachel Murray think that the new facility would not only fix problems but also inspire the dancers.

“The dance strand is the only fine arts strand that does not have a dedicated space,” Uehara said. “With our own space, the dancers will feel more validated and the quality of the program will improve.”

While the bond would bring to McCallum a new studio for the dance program, new HVAC units for the whole campus and campuswide technology upgrades, the 2017 AISD bond would additionally modernize and construct 16 new campus facilities for different high schools in the district. The early voting period ended Nov. 3, but the general election for the bond is on Tuesday. 

Because the new facility would bring the overdue improvement that the dance academy has been striving to achieve, I urge all in the McCallum and the greater Austin community to vote YES on the bond on Tuesday.

“In their own space, dancers will feel empowered,” Uehara said. “Their art will improve.”

Terminella is a sophomore dance major in the Fine Arts Academy.