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Student performance groups express concerns over temporary removal of Alumnae Hall stage thrust

Student Activities Office cited damage to some platforms as reason for removal, working with performance groups toward solution

<p>The Student Activities Office cited concerns over the safety of the thrust as the primary reason for temporary removal.</p>

The Student Activities Office cited concerns over the safety of the thrust as the primary reason for temporary removal.

On Aug. 31, the Student Activities Office proposed changes to the Alumnae Hall performance stage after announcing in an email to student performance groups that due to sustained damage of some of the portable thrust platforms, the thrust would be temporarily out of use. 

The stage is commonly used by student dance groups; a portable thrust, consisting of multiple platforms, serves to extend a stage further into an audience.

“The decision was made to remove these platforms from service,” the email reads, but “using the stage as originally designed will be beneficial for all.” But students were invited to share their “thoughts on anything (SAO) might have missed in terms of removing the thrust.”

Currently, the platforms are “set up for performances when needed” to expand the stage’s area, Joie Steele, senior associate dean and director of student activities, wrote in an email to The Herald. Steele added that the thrust is usually taken down after the spring semester. While taking down the thrust last spring, SAO deemed it unsafe for use. 

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The Aug. 31 email caused some student groups to believe that the thrust would be removed permanently, but Steele wrote that SAO is still consulting with student groups who use the space about future plans for the stage. 

Removing the thrust permanently “will only happen if we can’t determine a safe solution with students,” she wrote.

According to the email, the thrust brings the stage to “approximately 26 (feet) of stage deck.” 

SAO explained that without the thrust, space could be reclaimed by moving the stage’s cyc — a backdrop curtain — and upstage curtains further back, creating a total of 24 feet of available stage deck. 

The change would “improve options for lighting, sound and movement as well as presenting a much better visual experience for your audiences,” the email reads. 

Several student performance groups expressed concerns over the current removal of the platforms and the possibility of the stage’s reconfiguration to its original form. 

“With the cyc pushed further back, there’s going to be issues with people being able to cross backstage,” said Briannah Cook ’24, co-publicity director for Mezcla Latin Dance Company. According to Cook, dancers travel behind the cyc to move across the stage.

“The stage is very small, even with the thrust,” she added. “We have a big troupe … so depending on the piece, it gets a little precarious dancing, because you don’t really have the room to fully spread out.”

Ellie Morvatz ’25, co-director of Attitude Dance Company, said that getting used to a smaller stage would be difficult.

“The Alumnae Hall stage is obviously not ideal,” Morvatz said. “If you’ve ever walked around backstage, there’s just not a lot of space … the stage is kind of an odd size.”

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“I think one concern we had was (whether we are) going to have enough space to account for everyone safely,” said Kathryn Lee ’24, co-director of Impulse Dance Company. 

But Lee told The Herald that after talking to other company members who recently performed on the stage without the thrust, she became less concerned.

“We got feedback from one of the members saying there was enough room to move around,” she said. “It was a little squished on stage, but relatively it didn’t seem too much of an issue.”

“We are working to identify a vendor and exploring options and will continue to do that with students collaboratively with a goal of replacement over winter break if we can identify a safe solution that works for students,” Steele wrote.

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In a conversation with Mezcla, SAO representatives explained to students that they were “exploring solutions” to ensure student safety on stage, but could not promise such solutions would be implemented by their next performance, Cook wrote in a message to The Herald.

“I hope we are able to come to some sort of solution over winter break,” Cook wrote. “Losing dance camp was already such a blow and losing the thrust would just throw another wrench into our show preparation.”


Jennifer Shim

Jennifer Shim is a University News editor overseeing the staff and student labor beat. She is a sophomore studying Applied Math-Economics. Outside of The Herald, you can find her playing NYT Connections.



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