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Alumni, faculty, family and dance patrons gathered in the Dance Performance Studio Theater on Friday to celebrate the opening of the Dance Building on North Campus. While the building has been operational since the fall of 2021, the official celebration was postponed until it was determined community members could visit the space safely.

Earlier in the day, registrants had the opportunity to either participate in or observe a variety of dance classes in the new studio spaces. The subjects ranged from ballet technique to tai chi fusion to character dance. 

The event opened with remarks from David Gier, dean of the School of Music, Theater and Dance. Gier first acknowledged the delay in the celebration of the building.

“Technically this building was opened for business in the fall of 2021,” Gier said. “But we wanted to pause on an official celebration until we felt we could gather together safely.”

Gier then emphasized his gratitude to donors and excitement for the performances to follow.

“These performances will give you a sense of the impressive talent of our students and faculty, as well as the broad scope of styles and techniques supported by the dance department,” Gier said. 

The Dance Performance Studio Theater is designed in a way that invites a warm connection between audience members and performers. Audience members can feel the wind as dancers run past and can even hear the dancers’ breathing when the music pauses. The audience applauded loudly after each performance, with community members yelling “Slay!” in celebration of the performers.

Before the opening of the new Dance Building on North Campus, the Central Campus Recreation Builiding housed dance students, isolated from the other arts buildings. The new building on North Campus is only a short walk from the Moore Building and the Walgreen Drama Center, which are both a part of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Assistant dance professor Jillian Hopper, who was also the artistic director for the Friday performances, remarked on the increased capacity for artistic collaboration.

“The wonderful performances we’re seeing tonight give a glimpse of the glorious possibilities for the Department of Dance, especially here in our new building on North Campus,” Hopper said. “One of the many benefits of this new building on North Campus is that it really helps students and faculty form professional collaborative relationships.”

The performances were multidisciplinary, featuring not only dancers but pianists, singers, cellists, violinists and videographers.

“Time and time again, I have seen our students flourish when collaborative and technological opportunities are made available with the space to accommodate their creativity,” Hopper said.

The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Perry Kasper Granoff Studio. Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Kaitlyn Wilson was in attendance after performing in Aaja Nachle, a Bollywood-inspired piece featured in the opening ceremony. 

“It’s just a privilege to get to dance here,” Wilson said. “The windows are the highlight for me at least because we get to see natural light … and it’s really cool to be up here with the other arts buildings.”

Daily Staff Reporter Madi Hammond can be reached at