News: Sharing Space in the Second City

Many small and midsized dance companies in Chicago don’t currently have a place to call home. Some may hold rehearsals in one location and classes in another, with office space in a third. Available comprehensive spaces in the city are maxed out, and Lane Alexander, founder and director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project, has made it his personal mission to change that. His solution is a collaborative space scheduled to open this fall, where companies can share resources and work together under one roof.


The Collaborative Space for Sustainable Development (CSSD), a working title for the downtown Chicago facility, will house six residential companies—CHRP, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Ping Pong Productions and River North Dance Chicago. The 12,000-square-foot space will include offices, conference rooms, dressing rooms and four studios.


“Our goal first and foremost is to provide a high-quality facility for these organizations,” says Suellen Burns, CSSD program director. “The centralized location will be easy to access and affordable enough that groups can earn their own income.” Burns estimates that at least during the first few years, the resident companies will only utilize about 40 to 45 percent of the facility’s space, leaving all other studio hours open to rent by additional users.


Resident companies and renters will be able to offer tuition-based classes to the public in a shared environment. “They can benefit from one another’s audiences,” says Burns. “Somebody might come for a tap dance class and then see on the schedule that they can also take samba lessons. There will be an organic cross-pollination among the groups.”




Photo: CHRP master classes, like this one with Jason Samuels Smith, will soon have a permanent home. (by Kristie Kahns, courtesy of CHRP)

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