American Dance Steps Into Catskill- Lance Wheeler


By Melanie Lekocevic Columbia-Greene Media
CATSKILL — The curtain is ready to rise on the new dance facility soon to open in Catskill.
The American Dance Institute will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at its 62 Water St. site Saturday and everyone is invited.
“We are overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received from the village, the county, the state and area arts organizations,” said Community Relations Manager Chris Bolan. “We hope that our groundbreaking celebration on May 7 will introduce us to many more wonderful members of our immediate and surrounding community.”
The American Dance Institute was founded in 1999 as a dance school and in 2010 reinvented itself, transforming into an “incubator” for the dance world — offering its expertise, equipment and facilities to contemporary dance companies from across the country.
As part of its services, the institute offers performance space for choreographers and directors to work on new shows or to retool existing shows. Local residents will also have the opportunity to attend “out-of-town premieres” at the Catskill venue — bringing Broadway to Main Street — or at least, nearby.
Based in Rockville, Maryland, the institute purchased the site in Catskill in August 2015 after considering numerous other areas from New York City to Washington, D.C.
Once renovation of the site is complete, the institute will move from Maryland to the village of Catskill.
The decision was made to leave the theater group’s current site because of its size and high overhead costs. The Maryland site can accommodate only six or seven residencies a year, Executive Director Adrienne Willis said, while the new Catskill facility will enable them to host at least 20.
Location was also key.
“We are so thrilled to be moving the American Dance Institute to Catskill,” Bolan said. “When we started looking for the perfect area to house our program, we wanted a location that was close to a major airport and on the Amtrak line between Washington and Albany. With such a strong and vibrant arts community in surrounding towns, we knew Catskill was the right home.”
There are four buildings on the property, which once housed a hardware shop and lumber yard.
The property was purchased for $1.2 million and will undergo a $4 million renovation. The largest building on the site, at 30,000 square feet, will become phase one of the multiphase renovation project. It will include a large performance space, as well as housing facilities for visiting artists-in-residence.
The project is costly, but the American Dance Institute received a helping hand in the form of a $500,000 grant from Empire State Regional Economic Development.
In addition to creating a state-of-the-art theater space, the main building — phase one — will also provide housing for up to 26 artists, a kitchen, laundry facilities, dressing rooms, wardrobe space, a scene shop and other theater amenities.
Of the remaining three buildings, one will have to be demolished because it is in poor condition because of a number of fires over the years and damage from Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, according to Willis.
Phase two of the project is expected to include additional spaces like a restaurant, dock, public space, community studio and offices.
The theater space is expected to be up and running by 2018.
“We look forward to bringing cutting edge contemporary dance and performance work to the Catskill area,” Willis said. “ADI presents work that challenges our audiences and inspires them to think beyond reality — while enjoying every minute. We will continue to provide artists with ample time in our space to finalize their work, allowing our local audiences to be the first to experience new works from some of the more innovative artists in the United States.”


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