By Yepoka Yeebo
MANHATTAN — The National Dance Institute officially announced Monday that it would move into a permanent space in Harlem this summer, affording them the stability to expand efforts to bring dance and music programs to underserved children throughout New York City.
The group, currently based in SoHo, bought the basement and part of the first floor of an abandoned public school building, P.S. 90, at 220 W. 148th St., for $6 million. The group plans to spend another $6 million to renovate the 18,000-square-foot former school, which was transformed into mixed-income residential units and commercial space this summer.
Founded in 1976 by Jacques d'Amboise, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, the NDI teaches dance and music to 4,000 children in 30 schools throughout the five boroughs and also runs after-school, weekend and summer programs.
Kathy Landau, executive director of NDI, told DNAinfo that the institute had been looking for a permanent home for four years. They searched around Brooklyn's BAM Cultural District and around Ground Zero but "the stars aligned" when they found the space in Harlem.
"It was about the size, the geography and being part of a vibrant cultural community," said Landau.
"We'll have a permanent home for the first time, we can lay down roots, expand and bring people in."
There will be four dance studios, a 175-seat performance space, a gallery and office space. Landau said a rehearsal space would be available to local artists and performance groups.
The NDI also received a $75,000 grant from Goldman Sachs' Urban Development Group to fund a program that would place dance and music teachers in Harlem schools.
"We believe arts can transform lives," said Landau. "And we work primarily in under-served and under-resourced schools. They do everything from African [dance] to jazz to ballet, and they've performed everywhere from the White House to the Kennedy Center to Symphony Space."
The new NDI headquarters will complete a years-long joint project between the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, L + M Development Partners and Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement Inc. to redevelop an entire block of abandoned, decrepit buildings between Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Frederick Douglas boulevards.