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With painted shovels, Brookland's Dance Place breaks ground on $5m renovation and expansion

Supporters and the Dance Place 'garden committee' with ceremonial shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton praised Dance Place:  "We're ready in this town for a dance place."

Dance Place as it is now

The new Dance Place

Dance Place has ceremonially broken ground on a $5 million renovation project.

The renovation will update and improve the performing arts nonprofit's 30-year-old space, a former abandoned warehouse near the train tracks in Brookland.

In addition to improving the seating, dance floor and lobby, the renovations will also create a larger office for Dance Place's growing staff, enlarge dressing rooms and backstage areas, and add new restrooms. The new building will be about 9,500 square feet, a big upgrade from the current 6,000, which, Dance Place's website says, 750 people use weekly.

The actual construction will begin soon; Dance Place will close in September for the renovations and open in spring 2014.

At the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, where officials posed with painted shovels (indoors, due to a threat of rain), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton praised the project. Dance Place shows, she said, that "you don't have to be downtown to talk about the arts. You can be in our neighborhoods."

Mayor Vincent C. Gray also spoke at the ceremony. "This will be a wonderful addition to our creative economy," he said. "If you're going to be a true international city, you're going to need to have a true participation in the creative economy."

Dance Place originally was formed in 1978, and operated out of a rented facility in Adams Morgan from 1980 to 1985 until its rent quadrupled. Dance Place owns its Brookland building and has done so since it moved in in 1986.

Said founding director Carla Perlo: "My career, Dance Place, Brookland have all surpassed my idea of what they could be."

With the Artspace Brookland Lofts just next door and the Arts Walk at the Monroe Street Market a few blocks away, Brookland is certainly building a name for itself in the arts.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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