On Sunday I was in Wilmington to tour the Nemours Mansion, the massive 77-room home of Alfred and Jessie duPont. It was designed by Carrere and Hastings, built in a phenomenal 18 months, and completed in 1910. Walking through its rooms and gardens was like a trip to a different planet, but yesterday when I was at GMU I received a tour of what is truly a palatial space: the new studios, dressing rooms, training facilities, and gallery of the School of Dance at GMU.
Here are some words from Buffy Price, chair of the School: “Our large light filled studios with their banks of windows along one wall have long been a hallmark of our program. The newly created spaces contribute an even more dramatic sense of generous space and light. The university and architects realize how important a sense of freedom and light are to the study of dance and the two new dance studios, each over 2800 square feet with 20 foot ceilings and large corner windows, certainly acknowledge that. The studios are connected by a long gracious dance gallery with floor to ceiling glass partitions at either end linking to the outside and the lobby area. Also added to the building are a training room and conditioning lab for dancers, student lounge and bathroom and shower facilities. The sweeping curves of the over all design with large floor to ceiling corner windows reflect the rhythm and movement that fill the building each day.”
While the recent graduates may not be able to enjoy these spaces on a daily basis, it is thanks to their grace and achievements that the School has attracted such acclaim and generous benefactors. The expansion of the Performing Arts building is due to a gift from Donald and Nancy De Laski to The School of Dance and the School of Music.
Buffy says “I have been working with the architects on this project for over two years! I have loved every minute of it. In another life I would have loved to have become an architect and this allowed me to indulge my fantasies...” Although the new studios and dressing areas are truly magnificent – I have never seen university dance facilities so spacious -- the number of dance majors will remain 20 to 22 students per class. This reflects GMU's commitment to artistic and educational excellence. Buffy says the plan is to maintain this size of entering classes because it “allows us to focus on supporting individual student growth. The new studios will allow us to augment our outstanding Artist in Residency program and find new ways to connect to the community.”
The dancers of GMU now have studios that match their stunning, breathtaking performances.