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Revived Notre Dame Ballet Club creates a space for dancers to continue craft in college

| Monday, September 27, 2021

After dancing ballet for 14 years and practicing for hours each day in high school, senior Liam Hollen hoped to keep dancing at Notre Dame.

“There wasn’t really any option to do ballet on campus,” the history and economics major from Northern Virginia recalled. “First, I started choreographing ballet pieces with Dance Co., but I wanted a more traditional ballet technique class format. So once I got more comfortable on campus, I figured I would start the Ballet Club.”

Claire Reid | The Observer
Senior Liam Hollen restarted Notre Dame’s Ballet Club with the hopes of involving all students who were interesting in opportunities to continue dancing during their time at the University.

When Hollen began the process of founding the club, he discovered that a Ballet Club had existed at Notre Dame in the past but was no longer active. 

“I had to revive the club, which was pretty much the same process [as creating a new club] except for writing the constitution,” he said.

The new Ballet Club began offering hour-long classes at the beginning of last year. As president of the club, Hollen leads the classes, which take place in Duncan Student Center’s Studio 2 on Mondays from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. 

“They’re just like any other ballet technique class which involves half the time at the barre and the other half in the center doing bigger combinations,” Hollen explained. “Although, it’s a bit condensed because usually ballet classes are an hour and a half.”

While the dancers had to wear masks and make adjustments such as using a sign-up sheet to ensure that no more than 10 people were in the studio at the time, it was easier to hold classes during the pandemic than expected, Hollen said. He is grateful for the sense of normalcy that Ballet Club brought last year.

Still being a relatively new club, he said, this year, his goals for Ballet Club are growth and outreach.

“I had a pretty strong following of ballet dancers who I knew from all the Dance Co. pieces I’d choreographed over two years every semester, so that’s how I started getting dancers to come,” he said. “This year, I appointed someone the social media commissioner, so she started an Instagram and has been doing that kind of outreach stuff.”

The Ballet Club has no tryouts, and Hollen added that anyone is welcome to come.

“It’s just there to do ballet if you want to do ballet, because there’s really no other option,” he explained. “But that said, the difficulty of the classes is for students who’ve danced ballet throughout high school or usually their whole lives, so it’s pretty self-selecting.”

Like Hollen, Emily Tatum — a first year master’s student in the Kroc Institute’s Global Affairs program — had been dancing ballet for most of her life. She joined the club three weeks ago.

Claire Reid | The Observer
Tatum, a graduate student in the Kroc Institute’s Global Affairs program, was excited to find a new way to continue being involved in dance while pursuing a professional degree.

“I was looking for a way to keep dancing during grad school,” she said. “I grew up dancing and really enjoy going to class.”

Although Tatum tried adult ballet classes while an undergraduate at another school, she said they were often awkward and geared toward older, more casual dancers. 

“This is a great alternative,” she said of Ballet Club. “I love the barre and getting to try some fun, quirky combinations to challenge my brain and my body. I’m excited to keep dancing on a regular basis!”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article included a misspelled name. The Observer regrets this error.

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About Claire Reid

Claire Reid is an associate news editor at the Observer for the 2022 - 2023 term. She is a junior from Madison, Wisconsin in the Journalism, Ethics and Democracy program.

Contact Claire