Tickets Please?

From February 4 to 5, Andover hosted the annual Dance Open, this time in the new dance studio of the Pan Athletic Center. A historically popular event, Dance Open was unable to accommodate everyone who showed up wishing to view the performance. Between the limited seating and the long line of people waiting for open seats, some students took advantage of the first come first serve policy, cutting in line in order to attend the performance. After over an hour, when the seats were filled and the performance began, students who were not able to get a seat were left disappointed, particularly those who showed up early but lost their seats to those who cut.

Additionally, students expressed frustrations seeing parents receive priority admission to the performance. According to members of The Phillipian, this parent policy created an audience that was less vocal and excited, dampening the atmosphere of the event. Members of the board were also disappointed to see the presence of repeat parent attendees, particularly after many students were turned away at the door.

In an interview with The Phillipian, Gloria Chen recounted her experiences with the line situation, noting that more parents than students seemed to enter the venue despite the long line. 

“When I got there, the line was already full. A lot of people had to wait outside and just watch the livestream. But I also heard from my friends that a lot of parents got to watch the show. So I’m assuming that just the parents got to watch it, but the students did not get to see it in person,” said Chen. 

The Andover community is mostly made up of students, not parents. And since Dance Open is an event to showcase student performances to the Andover community, student performances should then, fittingly, give priority to students. This is not to say that parents should not be considered when planning and executing these types of events; however, students are the centerpiece of this community and should not have a significant disadvantage at attending shows made primarily for them. 

Parent presence and support is invaluable in performative, musical, and athletic settings. But, when planning a campus event, it is important to delineate between events with a student audience in mind and others that encompass the extended Andover viewership. This makes sure that its target audience can enjoy the experience in its entirety and without excluding others.

Towards this end, a possible solution that enables parents to support their kids but, at the same time, ensures students can have the opportunity to see their friends on stage is to designate performances to different audiences. There already exists a faculty and senior performance, and another division–– allocating student only and student plus family performances––would not be a drastic policy change.

Though, this separation poses its own difficulties. Dancing is considered an extracurricular to most performers, and preparing for multiple shows takes its tolls on the dancers. As Bradford Seymour, the Theatre and Dance Department Chair, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Simply adding additional shows adds a significant time burden on the performers who might not have that time to give, especially given that this is an extracurricular event. I think it is important to remember that a campus event like this is not only designed to be an entertaining experience for the audience but also an experience for the performers.”

Thus, our board believes that a numbered ticketing system can be an efficient way to enhance student experiences in campus performances. When students arrive at the venue, they can claim a numbered ticket, preventing their spot in line from being taken unless their physical ticket is lost or stolen. Although it is inevitable that some people will not be able to see the performance, they can be assured that it was not due to dishonesty and the result of bad actors beyond their control.