The time for a benefit showing of "White Nights" at the Circle Avalon Friday night was incorrect in a Style section article yesterday. It is 7 p.m. Due to an editing error, the article incorrectly identified the endowment to which the Dance Place is applying for a $100,000 challenge grant. It is the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Dance Place, Washington's leading center for contemporary dance, announced yesterday that after a fruitless search for a rental space to replace its present quarters in Adams-Morgan's Dance Alley it has signed a contract to purchase a new home in Northeast D.C.
The new space, at 3225 Eighth St. NE, will cost $215,000, of which $90,000 is to be a down payment. Carla Perlo, artistic director of the nonprofit group, said the Dance Place will borrow money from area banks to cover most of the down payment, but that it also is planning a major fund-raising campaign. An important part of the effort will be an application for a $100,000 "challenge grant" from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which must be matched 4 to 1.
"I was waiting to find a space that had the kind of magic we'd known in Adams-Morgan," Perlo said. "There's magic in this building, and I said, 'Let's go for it!' "
Perlo cited several factors that contributed to the building's attractiveness as a new location for the group: "There are no pillars; the performing space will be totally unobstructed. And the building is a block and a half from the Metro, and there's safe street parking all around."
The building, in a residential neighborhood near Catholic University, is a short walk from the Brookland station on Metro's Red Line.
If the purchase goes through as planned after a 30-day contract review, the Dance Place's performance series will be resumed there March 21-23 with three appearances by New York's Douglas Dunn and Dancers. The Dance Place and the building's owners have set a tentative closing date of Jan. 25, and Perlo plans a goodbye party at the present Dance Place site the following day.
The search for new quarters began in August when new owners raised the rent of the Adams-Morgan building in which the Dance Place had rented space for five years. Since Nov. 1, the Dance Place has paid $2,500 per month for the space. Perlo estimates that monthly payments on the Brookland building will be $3,000.
At the press conference announcing the move, Nigel Redden, director of the NEA's dance program, said that NEA Chairman Frank Hodsoll had just authorized a special $9,000 grant so the Dance Place can add staff during the transition period. "Dance Place has been a pioneering presenter of dance in the nation," Redden said. "It's good to see it will now also be a pioneer in finding performance space a little more stable than dance has been used to."
Redden said that "the space crunch is hitting dance more than any other arts form," and he noted that the Dance Place's displacement is a story that is being played out across the country, in cities that include New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis.
Also present at the conference was James Backas, executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, who announced a grant of $1,000 from the mayor's contingency fund. "It's small," he said, "but heartfelt."
D.C. City Council member William R. Spaulding, who represents Ward 5, where the prospective new quarters are located, told Perlo: "I'm more than delighted to have you coming to the finest area of the city."
The building, formerly used as an industrial welding plant, has been vacant about eight months. It has a total of 6,700 square feet spread over three stories, including a basement. The main floor, which the Dance Place plans to use for performances and classes, has 4,700 square feet. The dimensions of the Adams-Morgan performing area were roughly 32 feet by 32 feet; the comparable space in the new quarters is 31 feet by 40 feet, with a 30-foot ceiling. Perlo plans to use the basement for dressing rooms and storage, and the second floor for offices.
"The bad news," commented Jim Epstein, board chairman of the Dance Place, "is that though we made every effort, we couldn't stay in Adams-Morgan. The good news is that we've found a new home -- truly the space we've envisioned for a long time."
The Dance Place recently began a membership drive, with a $25 annual fee that entitles purchasers to reduced-price performance tickets and other benefits.
The Dance Place also is mounting two events to help launch its capital drive. The Washington premiere of the Mikhail Baryshnikov-Gregory Hines thriller "White Nights," to be held Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Circle Avalon, will benefit the Dance Place. On Monday, a "Sampler Dance Performance Benefit," featuring a dozen New York and Washington troupes, will be held at 9 p.m. at Tracks nightclub. Tickets for both events are still available at the Dance Place.