Construction on the $21 million Ballet Memphis headquarters in Midtown at the corner of Madison and Cooper is on track with a grand opening expected in the second half of next year.
The new facility will be more than two times the size of the current Ballet Memphis location in Cordova, which no longer adequately houses the expanding ballet company and school.
The new facility and move to Midtown's performing arts district comes as part of a multi-year strategic planning process undertaken by Ballet Memphis as it approaches its 30th anniversary season.
The combined programs of Ballet Memphis dance company, ballet school, educational engagement and the pilates centre serve 80,000 people each year, including work in the Jubilee schools and with Knowledge Quest.
The new facility is designed by archimania and features 38,000 square feet of heated space, including five studios and administrative offices. The largest professional studio will measure 5,000 square feet with 45-foot-high ceilings encased in glass on three sides.
Creating transparency and an inviting atmosphere were focal points of the design process, according to archimania principal Todd Walker.
“The idea of transparency runs all though this building and offers good natural light to dancers and to the people who are working here,” he said.
Retractable bleacher seating and balcony viewing allow for professional performances as well as informal rehearsals. The large space is also ideal for the flying rehearsals needed for the company’s original Peter Pan production.
Plans also call for a costume shop and street-facing costume display stretching more than 60 linear feet on the east end of the facility. On the west end, there will be a large outdoor urban plaza with public art. Negotiations are underway with a vendor that will offer healthy food options for dancers, their families and performance attendees.
“The idea is you can walk down the sidewalk and look into one of the studios, or you can duck into a courtyard and feel a little more private,” said Walker.
Donors have gifted $15.5 million for the construction, and Ballet Memphis hopes to raise an additional $31 million to help with sustaining and growing operations on the stage, in the community and across the nation.
Construction should be completed by next summer with Ballet Memphis expected to start moving in by June and a grand opening anticipated in September.