Basement Lairs: Dance Studio


They roam Macalester by day. If it wasn’t for their slightly turned out feet and lofty walks, traces of an alternate existence, they would be perfectly camouflaged with everybody else.

As dusk falls, they come waltzing from all corners of the campus and arrive at the theater building. One by one they retreat down the cement lined stairwell. Tucked away in a corner of the basement, their lair awaits them: the dance studio. The first one to enter hits the lights, which loudly jolt to life and then flicker like moth wings. One gets the feeling this space has just awakened after sleeping for a long time.

Three of the walls are not walls, but rather floor-to-ceiling mirrors. The fourth wall is white, a blank piece of paper. Thus, the lair is defined by its inhabitants; magically, it transforms depending on who’s in it. When they enter on tiptoe and begin intricately winding their hair with bobby pins, you know it’s ballet night. They shed baggy sweaters and jeans, revealing a medley of spandex and cotton. They crack their backs loudly and contort into stretches. They too are awakening; thawing out their muscles and preparing for the routines ahead.

Their leader, Sharon Varosh, enters and they flock to the bar. She speaks in foreign tongues, rattling off long strings of words like ‘tendu’ and ‘fouetté’ which translate into movement. As they carry out the familiar rituals, their reflections rebound against the mirrors, sending projections of themselves in all directions. Their sole audience consists of these self-reflections, but they perform anyways, beaming dreamily as they extend their limbs outward like long lines drawn on paper. The pianist, Sally, sends sound waves ricocheting off the walls, filling the space with calming melody.

Other nights, the space is completely transformed. Sometimes it is filled with modern, African, hip-hop or Irish dance or with rehearsals for student choreographed pieces or dance ensembles. The only true contstant is the movement and its mirrored projections, sending distortions out to an attentive audience of the self.