Arts & Sciences student newswriter Sarah Hill is a professional writing major from Lubbock, Texas, and she’s also an experienced ballet dancer. In this first-person essay, Sarah introduces us to a creative new student group — the Baylor Classical Ballet Society. They’re not yet a chartered student organization on campus, but Baylor students with ballet backgrounds who want to keep those skills honed are getting involved.
Classical Ballet Society keeps Baylor students dancing
By Sarah Hill
When I made the transition from high school to college three years ago, I knew it was going to be hard to find a way to keep ballet in my life. For many of us who grew up dancing, ballet became a part of our identity. “Once a dancer, always a dancer,” the saying goes. That itch to move, to create, to perform never goes away, but it’s hard to act on it with no outlet and a pile of papers to write.
Fortunately for Baylor University, a group of students banded together in the spring of 2019 to address this problem and formed the Baylor Classical Ballet Society — a creative outlet and home away from home for ballet dancers on campus. I had heard about the group, and stopped by to talk to some members after one of their rehearsals. Co-founders Kat Kiesling and Meagan McGourty explained to me the details of the student-run and student-founded society.
Meagan, a sociology and statistics major from Houston, told me, “I wanted a space where people could come and do ballet and perform and continue their classical training at Baylor without leaving ballet completely behind and thinking they were never going to perform again.”
Kat, a history major from Frisco, further explained the founding of the society.
“Meagan and I met in a ballet class here at Baylor and realized there was no extracurricular way to dance with others who like ballet, so we decided to make that happen,” she said. Both Meagan and Kat took their passion for ballet and made it accessible to all students on campus, and I was amazed and appreciative of their initiative to share such a special athletic art with the rest of Baylor.
This student-run organization welcomes everyone, regardless of their ballet background, and places a large emphasis on body positivity and community.
“Our members are a pretty diverse bunch,” Meagan said. “We have a lot of foreign exchange students, we have transfers, we have freshmen. We have people who are new to ballet, and people who have been doing ballet their whole lives.”
Although the group’s membership is currently comprised only of women, the Baylor Classical Ballet Society is open to men as well, and members would love to have some Baylor guys join. Not only would this be a great opportunity for men to have a chance to perform, but the society would be able to expand their repertoire with pas de deux (partnering) and more full-length ballets.
I was also happy to see such a variety of members attending the Baylor Classical Ballet Society meeting. Meagan emphasized, “We want to erase stereotypes that you have to have a ballet body to do ballet, or that ballet is only for women. At the end of the day it’s a fine art and fine arts shouldn’t have limitations.”
I also asked society members what they had to say about incorrect stereotypes of ballet in society.
“It’s a lot more than just people running around in tutus, which is the common misconception, I think,” Kat responded. “It is very physically demanding, and it can be anything from pop music done in pointe shoes to classical ballets like The Nutcracker.”
To get a feel for this society from the point of view of other members, I talked to Courtney Haubert, a psychology pre-law major from San Fransisco, and Kaitlyn Tremble, University Scholar from San Diego, about how important this society is.
“I’ve danced since I was 3 years old and even though I’m new I look forward to the long-lasting friendships and community feeling,” Kaitlyn said.
Courtney agreed. “Dance is for everybody, anyone who loves to dance can dance,” she said.
Needless to say, I was inspired by the members of the ballet society and look forward to seeing them inspire others on campus, too.
If anyone is interested in joining the Baylor Classical Ballet Society, shoot them an email at email@example.com. Make sure to follow them on Instagram at @baylor_cbs, and keep an eye out for their upcoming performance of selections from The Nutcracker on Dec. 7, 2019, from 4-6 pm in the Barfield Drawing Room in the Bill Daniel Student Center. The show is free to the public — so show up and enjoy!
Sarah Hill is a senior professional writing and rhetoric major at Baylor.