So you think you can Dance(Soc)?

By Kay White, second-year student studying German and International Relations

Kay WhiteAt the beginning of May a little bit of Hollywood arrived in St Andrews for the University of St Andrews Dance Society’s annual show, fittingly entitled ‘Razzle Dazzle’. This night of epic proportions showcased talent from the thriving society, allowing each of the 18 classes, ranging from classical ballet to head-spinning break-dance, the chance to perform. With over 150 performers this was a huge organisational feat for show convenor Jessica Biggs, but nonetheless the show raised over £4,000 in ticket sales.

The Society – known informally as DanceSoc, with over 250 members, 18 classes per week, a prize-winning dance team and over 30 teachers and committee members –  is one of the biggest and most diverse societies affiliated with both the Students’ Association and the Athletic Union. The Society has grown considerably over the past year and has raised nearly £3,000 for its charities: Children in Hope and Multiple System Atrophy Trust.

I have taught a dance class for the society for the past year and it has been an incredibly rewarding and challenging experience. My General Hip-Hop class had 25-30 attendees every week, despite the awkward time slot of 8pm-9pm on a Saturday night. It was a fantastic feeling to see students perform on stage, especially as some had never danced before coming to my class. The social side of the Society has thrived this year and the 1920s-themed Prohibition Ball at the start of second semester was a huge success and attracted dancers and non-dancers and former students as well as current. We even featured an alumna who now runs an Irish Dance Company in Edinburgh and came back with her dancers to perform!

In fact, many alumni support the show by buying tickets and donating costumes from previous years.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of space in the Sports Centre and a high demand of AU clubs for practice space, the DanceSoc classes are being forced to use inadequate practice spaces in the Town Hall and the Victoria Memorial Hall. Teachers are being forced to teach without mirrors and use floors that are inappropriate for their style of dance. This has meant that the bargain membership cost of just £10 for the entire year (attending as many classes as you like) has been raised to £15 to cover the costs of renting these facilities.

DanceSoc President Lottie Barker says that hours in the Sports Centre are of “vital importance to the expansion and improvement of the Society as a whole”.

The Society hopes to introduce two more classes this year as well as a second ‘Blue Angels’ competition team in order to be able to offer more dance styles and abilities to please a wider variety of people in the Society – but this unfortunately means more space and time from the Athletic Union. DanceSoc is a friendly and inclusive society and will hopefully benefit from the redevelopment of the Students’ Association Building and the Sports Centre.

Asking the DanceSoc President what the most rewarding thing about being a part of the Society is, she says: “I have met some of my best friends through my dance classes and feel like it is a society that welcomes students from all walks of life.”

The Sports Centre redevelopment, as part of the 600th Anniversary campaign, aims to expand and improve the current facilities, but more time as well as space is necessary for the ever-expanding number of sports and classes. Your support can help contribute to this huge project. For further information on the events and achievements of the University of St Andrews Dance Society, please like our Facebook page or email dance@saints-sport.ac.uk to subscribe to our biannual alumni newsletter.

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