Dance Department Looks Forward to New Warrior Studios

By Hadley Norris, Reporter

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  • Trinity Castro ’25 waves her flag for Color Guard. The new studio makes it easier for the dancers to perform with correct spacing.

  • Color Guard dancers practice in the new studio space. The new dance studios were finally finished on Monday, Sept.20.

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The final adjustments to the newly constructed dance studios were completed on Monday, Sept. 20. Flooring was installed and now the studios are ready for competition use. In the dance department there are two sections; the Warrior studio is used for larger teams like the Sundancers and the other studios will be used for regular classes.

“We are grateful to have this,” dance teacher and Sundancer director Ms. Jessica Steedly said. “We are looking forward to when it is completely finished and we get to move in.”

According to dancers, the studio is long overdue because teams would have to give up the studio for classes to use and move to the gym, or vice versa. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Ms. Steedly said. “Our old dance studio is like a bowling alley, it really limits us because of how much we travel. It fits three people appropriately and we needed it to fit upwards of 30 to 40.”

The teachers say scheduling was a complete nightmare and took unnecessary time from students’ dancing. 

“We are just able to do what we are supposed to be doing, these kids are amazing so they’ve always adjusted,” Ms. Steedly said. “Now they just get to be really successful.”

The administration let the dance teachers choose the amount of space students needed for lockers as well as storage. Both the dancers and teachers are excited for the increased capacity.  

“[The dancers] are so talented because they work hard,” Ms. Steedly said. “Now I can only imagine what we can do with the space.”

Previously, many dance classes took place in the cafeteria or gym, which didn’t have the necessary sound gear, mirrors, or flooring. The studios have come with specialized dance equipment that has vastly improved the quality of dance classes.

“Mirrors are helpful for movement,” Ms. Steedly said. “Having a sprung floor is also important because they used to dance on the tile which is not great.”

While no sprung flooring was an inconvenience to the dancers, it was also a major safety issue. Without the protection of sprung flooring, dancers can obtain injuries like shin splints while jumping. Other aspects of the old studio were also considerable safety concerns.

“The old space was just too small for the dancing we did,” Contemporary dancer Lilian Wey ‘25 said. “It was hard to dance in because when you jump, you hit the ceiling.”

Wey explained that because the old studio is temporary, she is fine waiting for a new one. 

“It’s all due to a Sundancer parent from four years ago who fought for Westwood to have this space along with the administration,” Ms. Steedly said. “It’s really cool that not only Dance but Color Guard and Cheer have a place to be successful.”

Competitions are coming up and the new space will significantly help dancers with both timing and spacing.

“When we dance at competitions, a lot of our spacing is judged based on lines,” Ms. Steedly said. “Not having lines in the cafeteria made it really difficult to practice.” 

Students and teachers alike are thankful for the space and can’t wait for it to be finished. The studio is a welcome addition to the dance department, especially for the seniors who have had to dance for years in the old studio. 

“The expectations have already been exceeded,” Warrior Pride leader Sophie Steinhauser ‘22 said. “The space is huge with mirrors on two sides of the walls. It is perfect for teams when you need to have rows and rows of dancers.”

In addition to enhancing dance practices, Ms. Steedly wants this new space to spark interest for more students to join the department. 

“The dance program here at Westwood is really cool because you can get the credits you need to graduate while doing something you like,” Steinhauser said. “We have all sorts of students who join and manage everything else they do with their lives. I would definitely advocate for someone to join the dance department.”

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