Colorado Ballet's new facility, designed by Semple Brown Design, brings artistic director Gil Boggs' vision to reality while elevating dance as an art form in Colorado and beyond
Colorado Ballet and Semple Brown Design, the most recognized performing arts design firm in Colorado, today announced the completion of Colorado Ballet's long awaited move into their new home at 1075 Santa Fe Street (north end of Denver's Art District on Santa Fe.) This move from the Ballet's former home of 20 years to their expansive new facility, brings Artistic Director Gil Boggs' inspiring vision for the largest resident dance company in the state to life. The new space will establish a center for dance where the Ballet will raise the profile of their unique art form in the state overall.
"When I think about my original vision for our new space, and what we are now surrounded by, I'm thrilled to say that this is exactly what I envisioned for Colorado Ballet," said Boggs. "We all feel a strong responsibility to further the art form, and this new space will help us truly accomplish that. Throughout my career, I've noticed that whenever a professional Company owned their own building, they flourished—not only locally, but nationally as well. We want Colorado Ballet to be in the national spotlight and our new building will finally allow us to fulfill that dream. At the core, though, the needs of the dancers, artistic staff and Academy were the driving force behind the design and amenities of this space. Thanks to our Board of Trustees, donors, patrons, Semple Brown Design and CMC Group we have a beautiful, functional new home that will allow us to enter an exciting new phase in our history."
In the fall of 2012, when Boggs turned to architect Rusty Brown, Semple Brown Design's cofounder, and Chris Wineman, the firm's performing arts specialist, to convert a former warehouse into a modern studio for Colorado's premier ballet company, he asked for more than the six studios he had available at their leased space on Lincoln and 13th and a minimum of two studios with floor space that would span the depth and breadth of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House stage so Company dancers could transfer their ballets from rehearsal to stage without adaptation or adjustment. Today, their new space is comprised of eight studios—two the size of the Ellie stage—as well as improved amenities for the Company, including separate locker rooms and showers, a physical therapy and massage room to encourage wellness and prevent injuries, a shared staff and dancer lounge to foster greater interaction between them, as well as safer student drop-off and increased parking in the neighborhood for Academy families. A black box performance space was also on Boggs’ wish list; one that could be used as a studio, yet be converted to a community performance space for more intimate experiences. The new Black Box Theater will enable Colorado Ballet to add in-house productions to their repertoire, foster up-and-coming choreographers—both within the Company and outside, and allow choreographers to practice their craft and present their works to supportive audiences.
Additionally, the increase in the number of Academy studios, their prominent location and visibility also demonstrate how education continues to be a priority for Boggs. "It is the future," he notes. Up to seven dedicated studios will increase and diversify the Academy’s programming. Academy students will have opportunities to perform in the Black Box Theater for First Fridays and other occasions. A new Pre-professional Program will also be launched this fall where high school students will travel to Denver to train with an academic component included. Company rehearsals and Academy classes have commenced for the fall season.
Ultimately, Colorado Ballet's new location represents a literal physical move, as well as a philosophical shift to a new place—a place that's more deeply embedded in its community, and more accessible to all. Semple Brown designed the building with an abundance of glass and open views to allow the Ballet to reach outward into the neighborhood rather than keep its art and activities within. Brown and Wineman also embraced their client's awareness of changing demographics, and how many cultural institutions are intrinsically tied to the community today. To this end, the new building is located outside of the downtown core in a highly diverse arts and cultural district reflecting the role Colorado Ballet will play as the organization moves into the future and becomes increasingly accessible to younger and more diverse audiences. The building's approachable scale also allows the organization to better support their mission to educate the next generation of students through their Academy programs and outreach. And finally, the building helps infuse greater morale within the Company through the establishment of an elegant new home and sense of the Ballet's intrinsic value while emphasizing Colorado Ballet's important contribution to the state and beyond. In Wineman's words, "A 'First Class' space means something—it supports a more substantial vision of what the future can be."