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Lowell Hall's Dance Floor Damaged

Students Say Surface Has Been Rendered Unsuitable for Performing Arts

By Eric S. Bassin

Although a $3.5 million renovation of Lowell Lecture Hall was completed just last summer, already students say that the facility's special dance floor has been severely damaged.

Because several large lecture classes are held in the hall, hundreds of students wearing hard-soled shoes have tracked salt and sand across the floor.

Some students say the wear and tear has made the floor unusable for the performing arts.

"Effectively...it's no longer usable as a dance floor as such," Amalie M. Weber '96 said, "especially for ballet."

"When they built the Lowell Hall, they built it as a dance hall," said Weber, a Member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Ballet Company.

Eric C. Engel, director of the Memorial-Lowell complex, said the floor has been damaged, but that abuse is expected.

"[The] finish on the floor is scratched and worn," Engel said. "The fact is that there are literally hundreds of people who walk over it every day."

Lowell Hall, which seats 350 people, was "designed so that it would be useful for dancers, but never to be a 'dance floor,'" Engel said.

According to Engel, a water-based finish was used to treat the floor in anticipation of heavy pedestrian traffic. A floor with such a finish could be refinished relatively inexpensively a couple times during the year, he said.

Weber, however, said that waxing the floor would make ballet impractical. "[Waxing] makes it impossible to do point work--you're going to slip and fall," she said.

Weber suggested the University invest in a marley--a performance surface which could be placed on top of the wood surface--for performances. A marley would cost Harvard about $1000, she said. The group rented such a surface for its last performance.

Engel said such a proposal was "a possibility for the future" and called the suggestion "very practical."

But Engel added that two considerations might delay purchasing a marley: cost and storage of the marley, as Lowell Hall was not designed with a storage area.

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