Bridgewater College Dance Team Recommended for Elimination

No Dance Team Would Create ‘a Hole’ in the Community

Dance+Team

Photo by BC Dance Team facebook

The Bridgewater College Dance Team is faced with the possibility of being cut due to the Strategic Resource Allocation process. The team plans to remain active on campus no matter what the future may hold.

Katie Baker, Editor in Chief

Bridgewater, Va. – On Oct. 6, the Bridgewater College Dance Team received notification that their sport is being recommended for termination as a result of the Strategic Resource Allocation process that the college is undergoing.

Head Coach – Dance Director for Spirit Groups Zilda Baker has been leading the team for the last six years and is among those faculty and staff who will no longer be employed by the college come June 31, 2020. 

The Dance Team consists of eight members who perform at home football games and at home men’s and women’s basketball games. However, the Dance Team’s reach can be felt beyond campus, as they participate annually in the Bridgewater Christmas Parade, perform for residents at the Bridgewater Retirement Community and mentor dancers at Harrisonburg High School. 

“We’re making an impact not just for Bridgewater, but for the community,” said Baker of their mentoring program. 

The Dance Team has been going into Harrisonburg High School and building relationships with the students through teaching them to dance. On the team this year is a freshman who was introduced to Bridgewater College through this mentor program. 

“We reflect greatly on Bridgewater’s character. There will be a hole. A noticeable difference in the future without us there,” said sophomore dancer Courtney Larrick. 

The Process

Through their position in Bridgewater College’s athletic program, the Dance Team is funded annually by the athletic department, which provides for items like uniforms and Baker’s salary. 

Baker explained that the SRA process began for coaches when the college requested that they complete templates documenting their program.  

 “When I was reading the questions I started to worry, because they wanted us to prove why we should be on campus,” said Baker. Baker stated that some of these questions were “your budget compared to the number of students that participate,” and “how is your program an impact to the campus.” 

After the templates were completed, every program on campus was placed in quintiles one through five. One meaning “program is eligible for increased resources” and five meaning “consider program for possible phase-out,” per an email from President Bushman on August, 17. 

The initial task force report “put cheer and dance next to each other, in quintile five, recommending a merge,” said Baker. During this phase of the process, Baker stated that she still had hope, because “many division three schools have one spirit team and we could make that work.” 

However, “when the [administration]  reviewed those recommendations  and put forth their own recommendations to the board, it basically said to dissolve dance team,” said Baker. “My heart really did sink. It felt more hopeless once we got the [administration’s] recommendations.” 

Thus, every program in quintile five, like cheerleading, was not recommended for elimination. “If they had gone with cutting everything in quintile five in the first document, then we would be losing a lot more sports than we are now,” said Baker. 

The Impacts

“We bring a lot of energy. We hype up not only the players, but also the crowd,” said Larrick. “It would make us look like a high school team. Without dance we look less professional and collegiate.”  

Baker explained that if the recommendation to cut Dance Team is approved, she sees two avenues that the team may consider to remain active on campus. 

The first avenue would be transitioning into a club and the second avenue would be joining the Screamin’ Eagles Pep Band — which will become a marching band next year. 

If the Dance Team decides to become a club, “we can still perform at half-time,” said Baker. However, funding would not come from the athletic department. 

If the Dance Team made the transition to a club “I would still be a part of it,” said Larrick. “Dancing is our only outlet. We came here to dance.” 

“The school has little involvement in clubs, they kind of just set you free. Becoming part of the marching band would be different, because then again we’re asking for funds,” said Baker. “And would we keep our identity or would we just become the marching band? 

The Reaction

The proposal to eliminate the Dance Team has elicited responses in support of the team from alumni, current students and namely from the team members themselves. 

“It saddens me to hear that a huge and very significant memory can just be done away with. This team really helped to make me feel as if I had a place of importance and value at BC,” said alumni dancer Danielle Jordan on a social media site. 

“This process has shown me the voice that the young adults at Bridgewater have. The girls are not taking it lying down,” said Baker. “They have gotten the word out on social media and have made a petition.” 

Senior dancer Annaliese Grove created the petition to keep the Dance Team at Bridgewater College. As of Oct, 26, the petition had 446 signatures. 

“The college may only see the Dance Team as a group that dances at halftime for the football and men’s & women’s basketball games, however, this is a gross oversight. Not only are we a main source of entertainment during these aforementioned games, but the Dance Team is also deeply involved within the community,” wrote Grove on the petition. 

Baker believes that she and the dancers share a “bond that cannot be replaced, because it’s bigger than dance.” That bond is strengthened as she watches the team “grow, not just as dancers but as people.” 

Recommendations will not be made final until the Board of Trustees votes on the matter in their November meeting.