EAGER FOR ROOM: CHAPMAN DANCE MAJORS ADJUST TO ONLINE LEARNING AND THE POSTPONED OPENING OF NEW STUDIOS

Chloe Andersson—junior Dance major. Photo by Chloe Andersson

Push the kitchen table to the side. Roll up the rug. Toss the clutter out of the way. Now Chloe Andersson, junior dance major, is ready to log onto Zoom. 

Dance majors like Andersson have had to creatively adapt to online learning this past year, shifting home spaces into DIY dance studios. 

But now there’s another wrench in the works. The new dance studio that Chapman dance majors have eagerly anticipated is now delayed from the original opening date of Fall 2022 to May 2022. Another pandemic disruption. 

This means that this year’s juniors, who anticipated using the studios their senior year, will be the last graduating class at the current Partridge Dance Center.  

The five new spacious studios, classroom, faculty office, dance medicine space—dedicated to learning about the body and examining injuries — and conference room will have to wait. Which leaves lots of mixed feelings.   

Matthew Schroeder—junior Dance major. Photo by Matthew Schroeder

Matthew Schroeder, junior dance major and dance department office assistant, is disappointed, but takes the optimistic approach: It is an honor to be finishing his degree in the same studios that hold countless memories.    

“I’m incredibly upset we won’t get to experience it as soon as we thought, but it’s bittersweet. I’m glad that we’ll have the old building from beginning to end, and we’ll finish at home,” Schroeder said. 

Schroeder explained that his disappointment does not dull his excitement for the other dancers within the department and the ways that the organization will flourish when the new building is complete. 

Similar to Schroeder, junior Dance Major Rosemarie Marabella said that she, too, was frustrated about the delay.

“But what matters most is the community and love we have built as a department,” Marabella said.  

The new two-level building is located right across from The K Residence Hall on the Dodge Film building part of the campus, just a short walk from Partridge Dance Center. It will be called the Sandi Simon Center for Dance. Sandi Simon and her husband Ron are major Chapman donors. Ron Simon is on the Board of Trustees. 

Chloe Andersson, junior dance major and nutrition minor, expressed that her emotions were quite conflicted regarding the new studios. 

“I’m having super juxtaposed thoughts about the new studio- Jealous and disappointed that I won’t get to experience them, but anticipate for future Chapman students to house their talent in a new space,” Andersson said. 

Chloe Andersson—Junior Dance major. Photo by Chloe Andersson

Despite some students’ grievances, dancers who are able to use the facility are looking forward to the abundant amount of space the new building will provide. 

Mia Harris, sophomore dance major, is predicted to spend her senior year dancing in the new building.

“I’m eager to see the new facilities, and hope that with the bigger building we don’t lose the sense of community and closeness scrunching in the old (Partridge) hallways would bring,” Harris said.

Current state of the new dance building—cluttered in unwrapped furniture and cardboard boxes . Photo by Savannah Sauer

Giulio Ongar, dean of the College of Performing Arts, indicated that the increase in space is something that dancers are craving after the shift to dancing online. Specifically, the increase in square footage, from about 12,000 to about 32,000, is one of the most thrilling aspects of the building, according to Ongar. 

In addition, even though there has been a delay due to temporary financial issues and the transition to remote instruction, the project has secured some substantial gift funds from generous donors, and the university is also investing heavily, according to Ongar. 

Delayed construction of the building displaying the copious amount of room dancers are craving. Photo by Savannah Sauer 

The final design will be set in the next couple of months, as the architectural firm makes the final suggestions on the definitive layout. 

Dance professor Robin Kish explained that the creation of the new dance space shows Chapman’s dedication to the arts. While Partridge Dance Center will always hold a special place in the dance department’s hearts, the building has been outgrown.  

“The new space will finally match the amazing talent and diversity of our dance majors,” Kish said.