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Dance Company Builds High-Tech Studios and Performance Space in TriBeCa

By Irene Plagianos | August 21, 2014 12:36pm
 The Gibney Dance studio at 280 Broadway is offering a host of classes while it remains under construction.
Gibney Dance Takes Shape
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TRIBECA — A dance company that opened a center in TriBeCa earlier this year is set to launch even more programs and classes there this fall, after completing two floors of new high-tech arts spaces.

Gibney Dance is in the midst of renovating its 32,000-square-foot home at 280 Broadway near Chambers Street — which formerly housed Dance New Amsterdam — in the hopes of building a modern, affordable creative hub for Lower Manhattan's dancers, said Gina Gibney, the studio's owner.

"It's a dream for artists to have modern equipment, modern space to work in," Gibney said. "There are a lot of challenges as a performer, but we're working to make this a place that people will be proud to be apart of."

Gibney's dance company, which also has a studio at 890 Broadway in Flatiron, expanded to TriBeCa in February and has already been offering dance and yoga classes from a handful of rooms on the two-level space's second floor.

Renovations that are now underway will add a ground-floor performance and rehearsal studio equipped with projector screens and high-tech cameras, which dancers can use to record their work. They will also be able to edit what they record in a new digital working room. Both those spaces are set to open on Oct. 30, Gibney said.

The performance studio will have windows facing Chambers Street so that passersby can watch dancers as they rehearse and perform, she added.

“It’s actually pretty unique to have a ground-floor space like that, where people from the street can see the creative process,” Gibney said. “The idea is to draw people in — the space can also be used for various types of exhibitions or intimate performances.”

Also under construction is a large studio and performance space on the second floor, which is expected to open on Sept. 3.

The renovations are partially funded by $600,000 from the city, including $96,000 from Councilwoman Margaret Chin. Gibney hopes to raise a total of $10 million and has secured $3 million in private donations so far.

The new spaces will allow Gibney Dance to offer more programs starting in October, including workshops on money management and brand building for dancers. The first course, which will focus on writing about dance, will be led by an editor of Dance Magazine. The course will cost $34 for four sessions.

The dance classes that are already underway — which include modern dance and jazz with levels from beginner to advance, as well as yoga — cost $17 apiece. There are also discounted $8 modern dance classes every day at 2 p.m.

Gibney said she is able to keep prices low through donations and by renting out the studio's spaces.

The former tenant of the Chambers Street location, Dance New Amsterdam, was forced to close after it went bankrupt last September. Gibney believes her business model, which has succeeded in Flatiron, will do well in TriBeCa too.

"We’re about focusing on what we can build — on how we can succeed,” said Gibney, a longtime dancer and choreographer who started her five-person Gibney Dance Company in 1991.

"The city, and people who support us, have put a lot of confidence in us to create something special here."