“We are one of the most well-known groups on campus,” said Barry Fulton ’05. Barry is a member of Nothin’ But Cuties (NBC), the popular dance company that brings down the house performance after performance both on and off the Williams campus. It is, in fact, the extraordinary success of NBC that makes it all the more astonishing that the group has to struggle for space to house both their practices and productions.
“NBC has been denied rehearsal time in the studio as well as other facilities that the dance program is in charge of,” said Billy Green ’03, founder and director of NBC. The end result is that NBC has to practice in places like Spencer Hall, a student dorm that lacks many of the benefits of a legitimate rehearsal space.”
“We have been kicked out of almost every space on campus,” commented Chris Sewell ’05, another member of the organization. Right now, Sewell said, NBC has to limit its number of members simply because it lacks the facilities to train more for each presentation.
“We need a mirror,” added Fulton. “[At the moment], we’re reduced to using a video camera. We need a larger space.”
One obvious solution to this issue lies in the new Theatre and Dance Center that will begin construction in the fall. It’s possible that NBC’s problem could be instantly alleviated with the creation of the new stages and studios within the building. The question is whether or not they’ll even get a chance to use it. Unlike Sankofa or Dance Company, NBC is not affiliated with the dance program at the college. That gives it last priority when it comes to appropriating space.
“To be honest, I really feel that the new dance complex will not change much.Â Designs have been proposed and unveiled and no one from the dance program has contacted NBC to discuss the possibility of having a rehearsal space in the complex.Â I only see what is happening with the dance program now happening in the new dance facility; more staff and more residencies will come in and take over student space,” Green said.
Sandra Burton, coordinator of dance at Williams, discussed the rationale behind the college’s policies. According to Burton, priority must go to the groups that choose to operate in conjunction with the dance program.
“NBC has not approached us with a proposal regarding inclusion in the structure under which we operate. There are only three faculty [members] striving to work with eighty to one hundred student performers annually.”
Nonetheless, she stressed that NBC was not simply left out in the cold.
“The members of NBC often participate in guest artist residencies, dance program-sponsored student performance projects and the StalwartÂ Originality Conference we sponsor, and borrow costumes on request. Students who are working on dance projects come in and sign up for rehearsal space. The protocol is that members of the four companies, guest artists, faculty and any students working on an academic dance project haveÂ priority of use of our limited space.”
NBC, however, would prefer to remain student-operated. Green explained his own position on the matter.
“I enjoy having a student-run organization.Â It gives the students something to be proud of.Â It allows them to get the ‘full’ experience of the dance world,Â from dealing with the financial hardships of the group to negotiating business with other schools that we perform at.Â Basically, we enjoy making decisions on our own. And the reason to date that NBC is not a part of the dance program is because our members have been dedicated to strengthening these aspects of the group.”Â
Green also expressed his own disappointment with the situation as it currently stands.
“The sad part is that this year we really made an effort to alleviate tensions between the groups…I really would like to see NBC put on a production in the dance studio this year.Â I understand that there are a lot of things happening but the dance program should nurture groups like NBC who are known for their productions.”