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Rachel Rizzuto on Friday, Jan 31, 2014
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At the Dance/NYC and Gibney Dance community welcome session on Wednesday night, spirits were high and big plans were in order for 280 Broadway, the space formerly inhabited by Dance New Amsterdam. Last October, DNA was forced to shutter its programs—which included dance classes, a full performance season and choreographic mentoring workshops—after a lengthy lease battle. This month, Gina Gibney announced plans to expand her dance center (currently located at 890 Broadway) by taking over DNA’s old space, giving the studios and theater a complete makeover. Both locations, roughly two miles apart, will operate within Gibney’s unique business plan: Studio rentals, as opposed to classes, are the main source of income, and a sliding price scale—commercial groups such as Broadway shows pay more than nonprofit artists—give smaller groups much-needed access to affordable rehearsal space.
Gibney had several big announcements to make on Wednesday: the signing of a favorable 20-year lease in the 280 Broadway space; the naming of six founding partners to helm the training program; and renovation plans to turn 280 Broadway into a high-tech dance center with two new theaters. Gibney quoted a hefty $10 million as the price of renovation; fortunately, Gibney Dance has just been awarded a $3 million grant by the Agnes Varis Foundation.
TaraMarie Perri, the founder of Mind Body Dancer, announced the expansion of her yoga program into the Perri Institute for Mind and Body, which will serve as one of the six founding partners. The others are Movement Research, Trisha Brown Dance Company, New Dance Collective (the group of Simonson technique teachers who used to teach at DNA), The Playground and Gibney Dance Center’s Contemporary Forms program, which organizes modern guest artist classes. Gibney has assembled a large, confident staff to make this overhaul as smooth as possible—some classes will be offered starting this Monday, February 3.
So what does this mean for New York’s dancers? Great things, it would seem. Gibney plans to combine two of the studios to create one large, sky-lit space for classes and performances. She also said she’d like to turn the current 130-seat theater into a black box theater, as well as add a digital media room so that artists can go straight from rehearsal to a tech-equipped space where they can view and edit their work. She plans to turn the spacious downstairs lobby into a high-tech performance lab capable of multimedia integration, and mentioned the possibility of creating a “floating cabaret” that would travel from space to space.
Much of the crowd was comprised of former DNA faces—staff, students, faculty—but the mood was unambiguously enthusiastic. As former DNA faculty member Benny Simon reminded everyone, it’s not the space at 280 Broadway itself that brought so many people joy, but the connection and community that was fostered within it. Thanks to Gibney Dance, it looks like that spirit will not only remain but also thrive.