Volume 16 • Issue 54 | June 4 - 10, 2004

Art group says it might as well dance in the Sun

By David H. Ellis

Lower Manhattan can expect an injection of ballet, modern dance and even the Brazilian dance form capoeria next spring as the Soho-based Dance Space Center announced their plans to move into a new 25,000 square foot location in the landmark Sun Building at the arts and entertainment task force meeting of Community Board 1 last Thursday.

Currently operating out of a cramped 10,000 square foot space located about 10 blocks north at 451 Broadway, the dance education and production organization hopes to move into the 280 Broadway building across from City Hall Park by next March. This will be the second move for the non-profit group in the past six years, the first as a result of a booming Manhattan real estate market and steep rent prices in the late 1990s.

“Before 9/11 real estate in Manhattan went insane which is why we lost our space at 622 Broadway and we were looking toward Brooklyn — we weren’t going to be able afford anything in Manhattan” said Dance Space Center executive director Charles Wright in a telephone interview. “It was a wonderful fluke that someone showed me that building.”

The building was home to the original Sun newspaper (not affiliated with the current paper of the same name) and is where the famed editorial, “Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus” responding to a child’s holiday letter was written.

The new lease for the facility, which will include a separate performance theater as well as distinct practice spaces for various dance forms, is being finalized for a 20-year term. According to Wright, the new facility will allow the number of participants to swell from its current mark of 2,000 and the number of classes, which range from beginner to the professional level, to grow from 130 per week.

“We’re moving into an arena of a performing arts center — that’s what’s really exciting,” he said. “We’ll be able to offer many more programs that we haven’t been able to do.”

Wright also cited the growth in the number of families and children Downtown and the embrace he has felt by the Lower Manhattan community as his reason for being optimistic about Dance Space Center’s change of address.

“Since 2001, Downtown has exploded — there’s families and children that traditionally haven’t been there and that’s exciting or us to be in a area with a need for schools, training and education,” he said. “Everybody across the board has been responsive about bringing our performing arts students downtown.”

Harold Reed, chairperson of the arts and entertainment task force of Community Board 1, was encouraged by the organization’s move scheduled for the spring of 2005.

“I think that everyone was very positive about them moving Downtown to our neighborhood,” said Reed. “I think it’s a very good addition to the Lower Manhattan arts community.”

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