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Center Dance Reaches New Stages

Arlington Center for Dance ready for dramatic movement.

For 15 years, dancers of every level of skill and experience ventured to Wilson Boulevard to learn from the Center Dance Company’s expert staff. Many went on to shine in productions on local stages; others would see their talents blossom into careers taking them to the audition spaces for Stuttgart and Joffrey.

Nancie Woods had planned on keeping her company and its school, Arlington Center for Dance, at that location for the foreseeable future; what she didn’t foresee was that future ending abruptly last summer, when the center’s lease wasn’t extended as anticipated in July 2007.

Suddenly, the company needed to find a new home, and it faced several challenges in locating one.

The Wilson Boulevard facility was 6,400 square feet large, which was big enough for four studios featuring sprung floors and high ceilings. Those teaching spaces — along with offices, dressing rooms and other necessities — were the basic requirements for any new space for Woods, the company’s general and artistic director. She was looking to replicate the current set-up and expand it.

Although her company draws from Alexandria and Fairfax County, Woods wanted to remain in Arlington; but searching for a 10,000-square-foot facility in the area proved difficult. So she expanded the search and eventually found what will be the Center Dance Company’s new home: 3443 Carlin Springs Road in Falls Church, inside Bailey’s Crossroads.

CENTER DANCE offers a wide range of recreational classes for youth dancers and offers one of the most comprehensive adult dance class programs in the metropolitan area. Woods sees this move as an opportunity to expand all of them.

"We’re so excited. It’s such a thrilling space," she said of the 20,000-sqaure foot facility that will house five studios with Harlequin flooring, high ceilings and large uninterrupted space.

"The size which is a huge thing," said Liesl Swogger, an instructor for the school. "We can offer more classes, do more with the scheduling."

The Bailey’s Crossroads locations will also allow for the scope of the Center Dance Company’s enrollment to potentially increase — not only keeping ties with the Arlington community and bringing in students from nearby municipalities like Alexandria, but bringing in more of Fairfax County in places like Springfield.

Woods said Bailey’s Crossroads is just outside of Arlington "but just close enough to Arlington where we feel like we still belong."

But will Arlington Center for Dance need a makeover at some point?

"We’re not going to change the name right away," said Woods. "We’ll have to see how it goes. Arlington Center for Dance is the name of the school; our company name is Center Dance Company."

THIS NEW HOME for the company is being celebrated through a "Spring Forward" festival being held at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre in Arlington on May 16, 17 and 18.

This is a joint production with Dana Tai Soon Burgess and Company, and features a revival of "A Bluegrass Portrait" with choreography by Center Dance Company founder Kathryn Fredgren and Pamela Stewart. The evening will serve as a benefit for the company’s new home in Falls Church.

Visit www.ArlDance.org for more information about the show and the Center Dance Company’s programs.