New arts facility to house dance companies

August 4, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It's hard not to catch the fever when all around you is dance.

The Fine Arts Building has long been home to theatre and the arts, but now the Chicago Human Rhythm Project is renovating studios and designating the space as the American Rhythm Center. It will be home to at least nine dance companies. It will also be dedicated to dance education for the general public.

"We're going to have tai chi, Indian, American tap, Giordano jazz is going to be here teaching jazz dance. So it's a lot of the art forms that you don't actually find in some of the mainstream institutions," said founder Lane Alexander.

The building is now part of what the city is calling its dance corridor, comparable to its theatre district.

"From 800 North Michigan to 1200 South Michigan and just a little bit on either side of that corridor, there are more dance venues, dance companies, dance schools than anywhere else in the united states of America," Alexander said.

Students are excited about getting more variety in classes and intense training.

"It was different because they did stuff faster," said 12-year-old tap dancer Charlie Bradley. "We'd have like four months to work on one piece for a show. Here we have a week to work on one piece."

Dianne Walker is a visiting instructor from Boston. She says establishing a home -- especially for the tap dance community -- sets Chicago apart in the world of dance.

"Dance has a huge presence in Chicago and I will say I have always admired and respected Chicago for its support to artists," Walker said. "It was no surprise to me that Chicago has reached this pinnacle of success for tap dance."

The American Rhythm Center will host its official grand opening on September 10 and will be offering free dance classes in the days preceding the celebration.

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