Athenas lack proper practice space


Graphic by Brooke Bobbitt

Maggie Fleming, Opinion Editor

When you walk through the underground track, you’re met with booming music from the weight room and a subtle breeze as the gym class runs their lap right around you. One thing you may not notice is the dance room. At first glance, it looks like another storage closet. The room is located directly across from the ramp which takes you out to the football field. 

According to Athena, senior Audrey Lee, this dance room falls short of suitable resources for dancing.

“Ideally, there should be sufficient space to fit the whole team and allow them to dance full out. There should be a full wall of mirrors and a floor specifically made for dance,” said Lee. 

Dance floors consist of two-by-fours and foam underneath a special type of vinyl flooring, referred to as Marley, which protects dancers’ knees from the impact of jumping and landing on the floor. 

“During my freshman year it was tile flooring. Some point after that, they put the new Marley floor in which makes it easier to do turns,” senior captain Mimi Loftus said. According to head Athena’s coach Deedee Johnson, turning is one of the most important skills going into IHSA dance competitions.

While the addition of the Marley surface to the dance program modifies the space, it hasn’t changed Athena’s ability to practice in the dance room. 

“We need space big enough and with the same measurements as a basketball court. That is key to us doing well at state,” Johnson said.

The current dance room’s dimensions are 28.8 feet by 17.6 feet and a competition floor is 80 feet by 50 feet. 

“Athletes [should utilize] the performance floor effectively and display exceptional spatial awareness in formations and transitions,” IHSA competitive dance rubric says. 

Because dancers are judged on their ability to use space and formations, they need a properly fitted practice floor and mirrors to perfect their skills. 

“When you dance with a mirror you can actively correct yourself as you go. It helps with synchronicity which is huge in the IHSA competition season. If we aren’t able to see if the team is all together, then it just makes us look messy. Mirrors would help with that a lot,” Lee said. 

Although the dance room has mirrors, the absence of proper spacing prevents the dance team from utilizing them. Thus, the room is used in alternative ways. 

“Normally, we use the dance room to get dressed, eat, and get ready before football games,” junior captain Alexa Noel said. 

Since the dance room is only suitable for smaller groups and preparation for football games, the Athena’s had to find an alternative location. 

With the recent addition at DGN, many dancers hoped for a more suitable space for practice. According to Associate Principal Dr. Ken Sorensen, “the dance studio was not a part of the recent MFP construction project.” But, the renovation of the white gym has resolved some of the issues. 

“By building the white gym, we are able to practice there throughout the week– it actually solved a lot of our problems,” Johnson said.