Move Brings Challenges, Opportunities for Center for Dance


(Friday, March 21, 2008 4:23 PM EDT)

The Center Dance Company's Arlington Center for Dance focuses on ballet, modern dance, tap and other traditional forms of movement. But, for right now, victory dances might be taking over.

Recently forced to move out of its Clarendon studio, the school finally has a new home in the Bailey's Crossroads area, and the staff are ecstatic.

A little more than three times as big as the school's old location, the new facility boasts 20,850 square feet of space. There is enough room for six studios with top-of-the line flooring, numerous offices, a parent-waiting area, children's play area, multiple dressing rooms and more.

In July, the school was denied its request for a five-year lease extension at its studio on Wilson Boulevard, starting the staff's frustrating search for another space.

“The relief was immense,” said artistic director Nancie Woods on finding the new facility.

Though the school is no longer technically in Arlington, it is “just a stone's throw away,” especially compared to other spaces the staff looked at in Fairfax, she said.

The idea of moving to Fairfax did not sit well with many families, and some students have dropped out of the program since the school vacated its Clarendon studio in January.

(The school has had to offer a pared-down interim class schedule for its winter semester in facilities all over the county.)

“We're busy and our kids do other things,” said Natalie Roy, whose daughter recently switched dance schools. “We're looking for something that meets our schedule and meets our needs.”

Although the school's staff “wanted to be in Arlington,” the “priority was to house the program,” Woods said.

Finding a building to fit the needs of both the school and the students was not an easy task.

“Dance requires a lot of space, with uninterrupted space and high ceilings,” said administrative director Jan Bull. “Arlington is building up, and it's hard to find spaces like this, especially space with parking.”

With the new location tentatively set to open in May and almost all of the same faculty still teaching, the staff hopes students who have left the program will come back. They also hope that new students will join.

“The size of the studio and the quality of the floor are two things that create the perfect environment for a dancer,” Bull said. “People will want to come experience it.”

With the significant increase of square footage, the school plans on expanding its business and its programs, and will need more sources of funding. But with the support of families and community and corporate sponsors, Woods is “confident [the school] will be a great success.”

“It's going to be awesome,” she said.

An open-house preview is scheduled for Sunday, March 30 at 4 p.m. at the new building, which is located at 3443 Carlin Springs Road in Falls Church (between the R.E.I. and Tuesday Morning stores).

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