By Jessica Hergert
Sprung floors, high ceilings, ballet barres and new teaching technology are just a few of the features in an advanced dance studio opening on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus.
The 2,200-square-foot space will cater to the historically large incoming freshman class, along with two music studios for vocal performance, a classroom and a faculty office.
The state-of-the-art setup is crucial to ensure dancer safety while practicing, said Marshall Onofrio, dean of Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University.
“The sprung floor is very important because it significantly reduces the stress on dancer’s legs, particularly their knees,” Onofrio said.
The studio is located on the lowest floor of the Bart Luedeke Center next to the bookstore, as Barnes and Noble released space to the university for academic purposes. With the influx of musical theater and dance majors beginning in the fall, a new dance studio was a necessity.
According to Onofrio, this year is the “largest class in a long time,” with over 50 musical theater freshmen and nearly a dozen dance freshmen attending Rider this fall.
Due to the increase in students within the program, space has become an issue for musical theater and dance majors. There are two other practice spaces on the Rider campus, one of which being the Aerobics Room in the Student Recreation Center.
Amira Davis, a senior theatre performance and dance performance double major, said the Aerobics Room can be dangerous, because “it’s for exercising, not dancing.” It also has a sprung floor, but the space is suitable for only some of the dance styles taught in the School of Fine and Performing Arts.
The new studio will allow musical theater and dance majors to attend classes previously not offered on the Rider campus in a space that is safe and beneficial to the students’ crafts.
In the past, students without a car on campus would have to utilize Rider’s shuttle services to attend classes at the Princeton Ballet School. While some classes will continue to be taught there, an increasing number of courses for the dance major will be offered on the Lawrenceville campus. Davis expresses her hope that the new studio will allow for less scheduling conflicts and more on-campus classes.
Alexandria Barna, senior dance major and a member of the Rider Dance Ensemble, expressed similar goals for the studio.
“I think it’s going to be extremely helpful in the growth of our program,” she said.
Although it does not have a name yet, dance students and faculty are eagerly looking forward to the first semester in this new studio.
With excitement already buzzing, Davis is busy with another big change to come to the dance program at Rider, a new dance group entitled the Kinetic Dance Company (KDC).
Beginning her freshman year, Davis knew she wanted to form a new dance group at Rider. After two years of planning, the KDC was created.
“KDC strives to prepare dancers in the Rider community for jobs in the field through inspiration, training and knowledge,” Davis said.
With the exciting new changes coming to the College of the Arts this year, the dancers will be busy preparing an array of performances for the university community to attend.
This academic year also happens to be the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Westminster College of the Arts and the School of Fine and Performing Arts, making the studio’s opening an even more significant event.
Over the past 10 years, the College of the Arts has experienced continuous growth because of dedicated students and a staff that truly love their work. Senior dance major Christine DiBrita said the faculty in the College of the Arts “are so compassionate and caring towards us, dancers and the program as a whole. It is wonderful that the achievements of the performing arts program [are] being recognized to the extent that a new dance studio will be on this campus.”
Published in the 09/06/17 edition.